Rainn Wilson is Frank, an ordinary guy with no superpowers who decides to kick crime in the ass. Sounds a lot like Defendor and Kick-Ass right? If this movie were a person, it’d be Kevin Bacon, which isn’t surprising because there’s only one degree of separation. You could say it’s the Taxi Driver of superhero movies… just don’t call it another Kick-Ass, mmmkay.
Frank (Wilson), a burger flipper, whose smoking hot wife (Tyler) and commitment to justice are the only two things going for him… oh, that and a commission from God to become The Crimson Bolt. When a sleazy drug baron (Bacon) gets his wife hooked on drugs again, it’s up to Frank to rescue her from his clutches and take on the responsibilities of a superhero with his trusty sidekick, Boltie (Page).
Kick-Ass had its moments, but the dark psychosis, religious overtones and ultra-violence of SUPER give it a jagged edge. SUPER roots itself in a fairly simple comic book story, but ratchets up the tension with a mission from God – giving the characters complexity and a general uneasiness that hovers between likable and unlikable as dark comedy festers in the background… the kind of comedy Heath Ledger’s Joker would enjoy.
The film parallels Defendor, another self-made superhero movie, starring Woody Harrelson with a similar make up – except SUPER sticks to its Gunn (couldn’t resist). There’s no crowd-pleasing as this low budget superhero flick answers to no one except passionate writer-director James Gunn himself. It has an unpredictable YouTube quality as the reality of each act of violence bears consequences and people actually get hurt.
The shooting schedule was also quick and the film-makers fostered an air of urgency on set relying on a few takes. The energy translates onto screen and SUPER knits great performances from Rainn Wilson, Kevin Bacon, Ellen Page and Nathan Fillion together to execute a film that remains compelling from the cartoon opening credits to its climactic, gut-busting 30 minute finale.
Rainn Wilson is seriously good. Forget The Office and The Rocker, this movie takes the actor to a whole new level… maybe it had something to do with tentacles unzipping his scalp and God activating his brain. Ellen Page also sneaks in a manic performance as Boltie with Kevin Bacon doing his thing and a short, sharp “cameo” from Nathan Fillion as The Holy Avenger. Liv Tyler was better in The Strangers and Michael Rooker, well we could just blame the vacant performances on the drugs.
The central relationship between The Crimson Bolt and Boltie mirrors the dynamic between Hit Girl and Big Daddy in Kick-Ass. Except there’s a strange sexual chemistry between Wilson and Page, both united by a mutual passion, teetering on the edge of insanity yet dutifully bound by society.
SUPER is not your typical Hollywood movie on account of the budget and creative freedom. It’s probably the direction South Africa’s disappointing Superhelde should have taken. Aiming for cult notoriety, SUPER is like a wrench to the skull, yet it somehow manages to captivate using the wrench to tighten up a few bolts while its firmly lodged in your head.
SUPER is another one of those movies that actually gets better once you’ve been exposed to the off-the-wall comic madness and given it a few hours to sink in… It’s definitely not for the squeamish and will probably go down like a gallon of battery acid if you’re expecting the feel good comedy of the year, but just like Taxi Driver – it’s dark and powerful.
The bottom line: Jagged
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