Gray’s Wife: Where’s Daniel?
Andy: He’s in the vault with a full containment breach.
Gray’s Wife: What does that mean?
Andy: I wish I could tell you.
The evil US military have a new super-weapon at their fingertips – government funded scientists are manipulating huge visible clouds of Dark Matter with their benignly apocalyptic “Erupter” satellite, firing rays of blue-black energy at awkward problems such as disused and radioactive nuclear facilities, utterly and above all safely erasing them from existence. This concentrated dark matter merges with the ordinary molecules of ordinary matter and ordinarily completely disintegrates them, returning the whole kit and caboodle to the sub-atomic underwear – I mean undercarriage – of our universe.
Ordinarily. But for chunky, floppy-haired super scientist Daniel Gray, the word “ordinary” has little meaning. He is played by Stephen Baldwin, best known as the face-slapping, chinnily gurning sniper who got a fag in the eye in The Usual Suspects and who has learnt much from that experience, limiting his acting to the occasional blink between terse bursts of need-to-know exposition or while heroically striding towards terrible danger. Judging by his ballooning physique, it seems the real twist back in 1995 was nothing to do with Verbal Kint, but that Stephen Baldwin secretly ate Keyser Soze.
Back in the future, aided by lovelorn scientist best pal Andy and his stalker-victim lab-rat Sophie Ellis-Bextor, Gray is about to shut down the whole project because an alarm has begun to wail, but with General Killion (played by The X-Files’ Smoking Man, and that’s a second warning sign right there, the first being any film featuring a villainous character called “Killion” is clearly going to be total shit) ready to pull their funding if anything goes wrong their seedy-looking boss Sever McKray orders Grey to shut off the alarms and make it all work, because he can’t afford to let anyone, erm, sever his ray.
Unbeknownstly to all, up in orbit the satellite has sprung a dark matter leak, with three other clouds of dark matter moving in for the kill, or possibly due to pheromone attraction – in either case, it spells bad disintegration disaster for Gray when the earth-bound generator zaps him with dark matter – only in keeping with his bid to supplant his brother Alec for the title of Fattest Baldwin he unconsciously eats it instead. Through his face. But He Doesn’t Disintegrate At All.
Grey slowly recovers in hospital while his wife and his best friend quietly squabble nearby.
Andy: I’m not at liberty to say anymore, so let’s just focus on Daniel.
Grey’s Wife: Focus on what – the fact that my husband collapsed of exhaustion? What could possibly wipe him out like that?
Grey: What you gotta do to get a cheeseburger around here?
Now presumably hovering somewhere between dark and non-dark matter, Gray (do you see?) gradually realises that an incredible change has overtaken him, causing lightbulbs to glow, fuses to blow, and the glass in picture frames to go (crack when he looks at them – sorry, I just wanted to maintain the rhyme). He can even sexually satisfy his lovely medical doctor wife without needing to remove her bra, although it isn’t clear that this is anything new.
Soon Grey finds he has the power to spontaneously cradle handfuls of dark matter and hurl them dynamically like Level Three Lightning-balls, although they don’t seem to make anything disintegrate either – not like the AWACS spy plane foolishly flying straight into a dark mattery storm – a Dark Storm – in our very atmosphere, a phenomenon which cannot possibly have anything to do with their experiment, claims the most likely Evil Dr. Sever McKray.
But Gray doesn’t agree – he convinces General Smo-Killion-ing Man that their experiment is responsible, provoking him to close down the whole project and demanding they destroy the satellite. Now fickle hero Gray refuses to comply – it will unleash even more dark matter, which Would Be Baaad – forcing McKray to do the dirty work himself, destroying the satellite and, it would appear, his life’s work. Aw.
Sever McKray stares down Gray.
McKray: It’s Over.
He leaves. Gray, Andy and Sophie Ellis-Bextor look at the wreckage on their screens in resignation.
CUT TO: Gray and Andy leaving the site.
Gray: This is Not Over.
But in the aftermath, Eevil McKray has plans afoot to steal the core of the lab’s dark matter generator and sell it to the Eeevil highest bidder, a plan which he puts into action just as Gray and Andy return to the militarily closed-down laboratory to find out what’s going on with Gray and the weather – dark matter storms are already destroying Seattle, for God’s sake! They witness McKray’s goons making off with the last dark matter rod on earth – now this potential weapon is in Eeeevil hands indeed. With his eyes rolling over all black Grey tries to muster his powers to stop their helicopter, but instead of disintegrating it he can only slow it down for a few seconds before collapsing. His efforts convince General Skully Mulder to reopen their lab so they can discover what Sever McKray is up to.
Gray: I think I’m having trouble breathing!
I can’t breathe!
Grey’s Wifedoctor is very worried about him, but nothing is going to stop Gray from returning to work and the same goes for lovedoctor Andy who, after being shot in the arm by a goon is now attracting the attention of Sophie (see guys? Even geeks can get the girl – just get shot and she’s a shoe in. Or rather you are). BUT Eeeeevil Dr. Severus… ah, McKray has turned the dark matter weapon on his old stomping ground in a bid to tidy up the last loose ends. However, for some reason, Grey and Andy have enough time to evacuate the site before Grey goes back in to stand in harm’s ray – er, way, deflecting the ray and saving the day, hooray. Back in Eeeeeevil land, McKray is starting to displease his potential buyer (who talks threateningly about “her” government but sounds just as American as everyone else… so no contradiction there then).
Military Loudhailer: Stop where you are and place your hands above your head! This is the United States Armed Forces! Comply or be shot!
Once again on the verge of collapse, Gray is picked up by McKray and taken to his secret hideout where he monologues the terrible inner workings of his/the plot – he deliberately got Gray all dosed up with dark matter because he knew (I guess) that it could be absorbed by the human body and bestow super powers, but he felt (I guess) that it was best to test it on someone else before tasting the goods himself. Now convinced, and with doctorwife Gray on hand as a hostage and to keep Gray alive (for some reason), he is ready to go for it himself. Doctorwife and Gray bust themselves free but (probably because they spend way too long tenderly kissing each other in a time-critical situation) Gray is too late to stop him and McKray soaks up a tube full of dark matter.
All loaded up, McKray now talks with a special effect voice and crows about “The Power”, but while he and Gray roll many sided dice at each other down by the dark matter generator Andy saves the day from the control room, firing off all the dark matter energy and sucking it out of Gray and McKray, disintegrating McKray in the process. But not Gray. Anyway, Andy aims it all at the deadly dark matter storms that are mere seconds from destroying the entire planet and (I guess) they cancel each other out, saving us all. But not from this film.
At the end of candlelit dinner filled with naturalistic dialogue:
Grey: Kind of nice to have a little romance each and every day. (there is a long pause broken by no acting) Is it getting hot in here?
Grey’s Wife gets up, kisses him.
Grey’s Wife: I think this deserves a little heat of our own.
She leaves. Grey rolls his chin and clears his throat.
Grey: It’s getting hot in here.
Whoababy, it’s baaad. So baaad, that it’s goooood?
– – –
P.S: the film almost starts and almost ends on the same, unfinished joke. Should anyone ever read this review, a Kudos prize goes to the best effort of completion:
This guy walks into a bar right, he’s got a white poodle under one arm and some dark matter under the other, and the bartender says to him –
Maybe you can make this less of a wasted life experience for me here…