Take a Drink: whenever Sean acts all shady
Take a Drink: for Mom flashbacks and/or classical music
Take a Drink: every time Teresa’s partner says something sexist, racist, or whateverist
Do a Shot: when it’s vigilante time!
By: Henry J. Fromage (Five Beers) –
We had a nice run of “realistic” superhero/vigilante films a few years back, including Super, Kick-Ass, Defendor, and the documentary Superheroes, but for good or ill, none of them (no, not even the documentary) take the subject material as seriously as Boy Wonder.
This film is about a young man, Sean (Caleb Steinmeyer), obsessed with finding the man who killed his mother in a carjacking when he was a small child. This leads to risky vigilantis, and as this behavior escalates, a young detective (Zulay Henao) starts to pick up his trail.
Somebody had to pick up the slack after McGruff got busted for a weed fortress
Director Michael Morrissey shows plenty of talent for creating atmosphere and a creeping sense of dread, and the film looks great for what couldn’t have been much of a budget. The plot is also intriguingly complex, like pulling back the layers of a particularly depressing onion, as each flashback reveals more and more tragic backstory.
Consequently, his father (Bill Sage), gets the juiciest role, and delivers admirably. Our opinion of him shifts back and forth dramatically over the film, and we begin to see the buried rage and frustration underlying even his doofy whitebread single Dad personality.
The film even hints at fascinating alternate explanations for Sean’s behavior and the dour setting of the film, when at one point he walks past an apoplectic mother berating her children, but for an instant the scene shifts to the entirely under control mother simply being stern. This hints that everything that Sean sees is exaggerated, and perhaps the entire film is more dark and full of confrontation than in reality.
Then again, it is New York
If only they’d developed that plotline. Instead we get Kick-Ass if it was completely humorless and totally self-serious, starring Emo Spider-Man off his Zoloft.
Yes, it gets sadder than this
To be fair, most vigilante films make a hash of common sense and decency, but good ones acknowledge the moral ambiguity of the situation. Boy Wonder is the kind of film where the cop is conflicted about whether to arrest this emotionally unstable multiple murderer (I’ll let you guess how that plays out), and where an act of brutality is immediately followed by a hooker running down all of the bad things her pimp has done (including child molestation, of course), and how she’ll totally make something of her life now.
The dialogue. In that aforementioned scene, the prostitute says “He was an Angel sent down by God to give me a second chance.”
You write situations like this to drive subtlety and moral complexity from the room while screaming “NA NA NA” with your fingers in your ears and eyes tightly shut.
For some reason, Morrissey lays on clichéd horror movie edits and musical cues, and insists on showing every fight in as dark and muddled a manner as possible. It’s like if Platinum Dunes tried to make a prestige flick.
There are some intriguing ideas in Boy Wonder, but in the end we get a mediocre revenge flick scared of really engaging with any of them.