Painkiller Jane

TV review by
Will Wade, Common Sense Media
Painkiller Jane TV Poster Image
Contrived, violent action show doesn't connect.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

Jane is a member of a covert government unit assigned to tracking down people with unusual mental abilities. Being part of a quasi-military group means the team is used to following orders, but because they are a secret operation, there is a fair amount of "the standard rules don't apply to us" attitude. Jane is a strong woman.

Violence

Plenty of fistfights, guns, shootouts, and some self-inflicted damage. Some of the scenes can be bloody and graphic, including close-ups of wounds, but most of the fights are relatively tame.

Sex

No sex or nudity; some mild flirting.

Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Some characters drink moderately.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that the entire premise of this comic-book-inspired series demands a certain amount of violence and blood. The main character, Jane, can heal from almost any wound, a talent that's regularly put to the test (sometimes graphically). There are close-up shots of deep cuts and bullet wounds, and though the point is to show Jane's amazing recovery, the sequences aren't pretty. The other members of her squad are aware of her ability and sometimes take advantage of it (for example, by shooting through her when they need to take down a villain). Jane also volunteers to draw enemy fire in some scenes and is shot repeatedly. Her ability doesn't make her immune to pain, and she's clearly in agony.

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What's the story?

In PAINKILLER JANE, Kristanna Loken stars as titular character Jane Vasko, an indestructible government agent assigned to a team (including Rob Stewart as team leader Andre McBride and Sean Owen Roberts as computer whiz Riley Jensen) that's tracking down "Neuros" -- people who have developed unique mental abilities that make others want to do bad things. Jane has also developed her own special power -- super-healing -- which she discovers when she falls off a skyscraper and doesn't die. To make sure, she also runs into the middle of a gunfight and later jabs herself with a corkscrew, just to watch the wounds heal super-fast.

Is it any good?

The problem with Painkiller Jane is that it doesn't make much sense. For example, although -- like Jane -- Neuros also spontaneously develop super-human abilities, the team's doctor vows that Jane isn't one of them -- and since there's not really any logical explanation for any of this, viewers have to take him at his word. And the storylines are held together with exposition, either from Jane or one of her fellow secret agents. Without these helpful hints, it would be nearly impossible for viewers to figure out what's going on.

It's not just the script that seems forced: Some scenes come across as low budget and fall flat. At one point, for example, the team is assigned to protect the president -- a task that apparently can't be that hard, given that only a few dozen extras are on hand to portray an unusually thin crowd greeting his arrival at a major event. And when the president's official security team notifies the Neuro hunters -- by radio -- that they won't be working together, it seems as if the goal was to avoid hiring additional actors to play the Secret Service detail. If only Jane could kill that kind of pain.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the role of violence in this show. Is it appropriate for the story that's being told? Which parts, if any, are gratuitous? Who sets (and enforces) limits for TV violence? Are standards different now than they used to be? Why? Families can also discuss the show's father-daughter relationship. Jane's relationship with her father is strained, which seems to have played an important part in the development of her icy-cool character -- good for a government agent, not so good for maintaining close friendships. When it comes to father-daughter relationships, is "quality time" an adequate substitute for "quantity time"? How can you help a child deal with the death of a parent?

TV details

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