Enhanced (2019) Review
Humans with enhanced powers are being hunted down and captured by an Above Top Secret government agency. As one of them fights for her freedom, she realizes one of her own kind may be an even bigger threat. The New Mutants or another new X-Men film?
No, it’s Enhanced, the new film from director James Mark. He teamed up with co-writers Matthew Nayman (Betrayal) and Peter Van Horne for a semi-sequel to Mark’s 2017 film Kill Order. Neither the film’s poster nor its Facebook page refers to Enhanced as a sequel to or even in the same world as Kill Order. But the connections are obvious. The mutant’s powers, the glowing blue eyes and, of course, Chris Mark playing a mutant named David. Some interviews from the time of filming do make the connection, however. I can only assume some legal wrangling, perhaps due to the change in producers and production companies, is responsible.
Anna (Alanna Bale, Cardinal, The Marijuana Conspiracy) works as a mechanic in a nondescript repair shop and tries to keep a low profile. But when things go wrong, and she has to use her powers, men end up dead, and it’s noticed by Captain Williams (Adrian Holmes, Cabin in the Woods, V-Wars) who dispatches George (George Tchortov, Goon, The Expanse) and his team to bring her in.
Despite the Captain’s assurances to the contrary, however, the experiment that created Anna and those like her did create an “Alpha” mutant, David (Chris Mark, X-Men: Dark Phoenix, Midway). But when his power proves to be a threat to both humans and mutants, Anna and George must work together to bring him down.
Regardless of the film’s connections to Kill Order, Enhanced works well as a standalone film. And, as such, it’s not bad for a low budget trip into X-Men territory. Mark wisely doesn’t try for extravagant effects or epic action set pieces. He wisely takes the same approach to the subject matter that Cronenberg did in Scanners and relies on well shot, small scale scenes of violent action.
Unfortunately, there’s nobody involved with this film who has his talent. As a result, Enhanced suffers from the same problem most films made by stuntmen suffer from. The action scenes are great, but the rest of the film frequently feels like an afterthought, it’s just there to get the characters from one fight scene to another.
Thankfully, the script at least borrows elements that keep things interesting. Apart from the artificially induced powers, Enhanced also takes inspiration from CONSEC, Scanners’ evil medical conglomerate. And then adds in elements from Jet Li’s The One when it finally gets around to explaining what’s going on.
While it all feels like a collection of scenes rather than a complete film, at least it’s not boring. Much like the recent Army of One, Enhanced avoids the trap of padding things out with lots of talk. Dialogue scenes are kept short, which also helps divert attention from the plot’s flaws. The less they talk about it, the less chance for the audience to notice the problems.
Taken for what it is, a low budget action flick that delivers more action than talk, Enhanced is quite watchable. Don’t expect too much, and you’ll have a good time.