Shut up, Crime!!
Moviescramble reviews the 2011 masked hero movie Super.
Frank Darbo (Rainn Wilson) is a bit of a loser. He works as a cook in a fast food restaurant. The only good thing going for him is his reformed drug addict wife Sarah (Liv Tyler). When she falls back into her old ways of getting totally wasted and ends up leaving Frank to take up with local drug dealer and all round bad Guy Jock (Kevin Bacon) something within Frank breaks. He reasons to himself that in order to get Sarah back he must eradicate the root cause of her problems, namely crime. After the visitation of The Holy Avenger (Nathan Fillion), the star of a Christian television series about amoral superhero, Frank decides that he must become a superhero. He visits a local comic store to research superheroes without powers and gets chatting to the store clerk, Libby (Ellen Page). She points him in the right direction. After much deliberation his superhero alter ego is born. The Crimson Bolt. With his weapon of Justice, a wrench, and catch phrase Shut up, Crime!, he ventures out into the seedy crime filled streets to fight evil.
This film suffered financially due to audiences not getting what they wanted from this movie. It was advertised as a spoof superhero movie in the vein of Kick Ass. A lot of unfair comparisons were made between the two. The film in fact is a number of different things and I don’t think it suffers from it. It has elements of comedy, superhero action, serious drama and violent horror. Without going into spoiler territory the film takes a few abrupt right turns. To begin with this plays very much like a comedy. The tone is light (as it can be for the subject matter) and you are confident that you know what is going on and where this will end up. When Frank starts to build his superhero persona a few doubts start to seep in about Franks sanity. When he ventures out as The Crimson Bolt with his trusty wrench, the ‘Justice’ he hands out is brutal and bloody. At first he targets criminals but then the crime of cutting in in front of him in a queue has the bloodiest vengeance of all. It’s a massive shift in tone and the film moves in a bit of an unexpected direction. The introduction of Libby seems to shift things back until she becomes Boltie, the sidekick to The Crimson Bolt. Libby has some serious issues that come to the fore when she is in costume leading the film into even darker, more violent territory.
It’s the inability to categorize this film that put a lot of people off. There is no such problem with the cast. All roles are played very well. Rainn Wilson in only his second lead role is excellent. He plays Frank so well, one minute determined the next mentally unstable. Ellen page, who I had only seen in Inception and x-Men 3, is the perfect foil for Frank ramping up the madness to 11. Liv Tyler doesn’t have a lot to do and plays her role in an understated way. Kevin Bacon as Jock is superb in his small role. He totally steals the scenes he is in. The other notable role is Jock’s right hand man played by Michael Rooker. He is one of those actors that the name may not be familiar but you will instantly recognize his face from many film and TV roles.
Overall an odd film that doesn’t deliver the expected. It is way more violent than expected and is not so much of a comedy. There are some serious issues touched on including loss, loneliness, and mental health issues. Worth a watch.