Sunday, January 29, 2012

Super (2010)

Image from Imp Awards

Super (2010)

Lonely loser Frank (Rainn Wilson) manages to wind up married to hottie / recovering drug addict Sarah (Liv Tyler). When an unscrupulous strip club owner / drug dealer (Kevin Bacon) manages to steal Sarah away from him, he goes over the edge and becomes a super hero, The Crimson Bolt. Together with his friend Libby (Ellen Page), he fights crime by beating people senseless, with the ultimate aim of rescuing Sarah.

It's a very odd film, vaguely like 'Kick Ass' but leaving a much sourer taste in your mouth afterwards. That's mostly because of its wildly inconsistent tone that veers between comic absurdity to cringe inducing violence, from pathos to laugh out loud funny. The funny bits are truly funny, and the shocking bits are truly shocking, and in that sense it's a well crafted film.

It builds up like a real world superhero origin story only unlike Kick Ass it doesn't slowly transform into an actual superhero story; instead it sticks within its real world confines where violence and conflict have bloody consequences. At some point the line between hero and villain becomes truly blurred as The Crimson Bolt sends people to hospital for relatively minor infractions. Frank is clearly mentally unstable, as is Libby, but the film doesn't really go anywhere truly interesting with that other than playing it for laughs. The bloody tale culminates in a traditional and exciting action sequence filled with copious amounts of gore.

Wilson is superb as the unhinged Frank, scary and sympathetic in equal measure and always funny in that absurd deadly serious manner that made him so good in the US version of 'The Office', and Kevin Bacon is perfectly cast as the sleazy villain. Page is manic and demented and loads of fun to watch. It's low budget but doesn't look or feel it for the most part - writer/director James Gunn seems to have a knack for making the most of his scarce resources.

At the end of the day it feels like a story in an identity crisis, and while I'm guessing this is intentional it made the film hard to really love. I liked it, though I'm not really sure I'd want to see it again.

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