Red Faction: Origins 

Did he tell anybody else? Because that wasn’t my top-of-mind takeaway.

Based on a series of video games with which I have no experience playing, “Origins” is, I’m guessing, a prequel story. Set on Mars in 2145, it follows second-generation soldier Jake Mason (“SGU Stargate Universe” vet Brian J. Smith, who looks like Josh Hartnett, but acts like Casper Van Dien) in search of his kidnapped sister (Tamzin Merchant, TV’s “The Tudors”), although everyone believes such a hunt to be utterly futile.

It’s certainly not simple, what with his other, more-official missions of recovering “any EDF technology,” whatever that means, and the like. Areas of the Martian colonies are named after groundbreaking sci-fi writers like Ray Bradbury and Isaac Asimov, which is a nice touch, but I could’ve done without the groaning punch line of "When in Asimov ...").

Other lines in Andrew Kreisberg’s teleplay raise more eyebrows, for being baffling ("Do you carry a singularity bomb?") or just buffoonery ("You are as crazy as a rock eater! ... I like that”). The guy is a writer for the excellent TV series “Warehouse 13,” so I’ll just assume he was saving his juiciest juice for the day job.

But “Red Faction: Origins” is not incompetent. It’s dull, but not dumb, and director Michael Nankin (TV’s “Battlestar Galactica”) achieves far-out production values for a made-for-cable movie that’s really as lighthearted as it is red-tinted. From his “BSG” days, he also brings along still-cute Kate Vernon as a hologram. And the aforementioned Patrick (“Terminator 2: Judgment Day”), as Jake’s pop, is starting to resemble Randy Quaid, which is apt since the climax tears a page straight from the "Independence Day" script. —Rod Lott

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Rod Lott

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