Scoping the selection of dvds at the library, I saw Super. The cover showed a masked superhero with the legend Shut Up Crime! I was hooked.
It had its moments but I ended up despising too much of it.
It started somewhat patently and cute, with this schlub happy about two things, marrying his wife, and helping a cop in a minor way catch a felon. He’s played by Rainn Wilson and she by Liv Tyler.
Then Kevin Bacon comes by looking for Tyler. She’s not around but Bacon cadges breakfast from Wilson. Bacon’s one of the highlights. He’s a jittery, sleazy felon. He’s fun to watch, even tho a creep, and eventually quite brutal.
Soon after this meeting Tyler leaves, taking all her stuff. Wilson tailspins. Finally he decides to do something. He has a ridiculous vision that inspires him to become a superhero. He goes to the library to find out where crime is, then goes there (a drug haven) and tries to stop it. Doesn’t work. He really does say “Shut up, crime.”
He goes to a comic book store to research superheroes. Here he meets Ellen Page, a clerk there. Page is another highpoint, at least for a while. It seems at first like a meet cute moment. She shows interest in him but he is obliviously singleminded. She doesn’t know what he’s about exactly but gives him lots of help.
He creates a red outfit, calls himself the Crimson Bolt. He realized that he lacked weaponry in his earlier attempt to stop crime, so he chooses to wield a red pipe wrench. Then he goes out. It is an inspired sight to see him sitting on the ground by a dumpster waiting for crime. Eventually he sees a drug deal. He rushes over and clobbers the felon with the wrench. The blow is rendered realistically, with an awful sound and blood. It made me cringe to see. Boy, you want this to be funny and that just flails the idea.
Later, in civvies, he rebukes a guy who cut into line at the movie theatre. Wilson seethes with anger but the guy stands his ground. Wilson goes to his car and dresses in his outfit. We see his underpanted butt thru the back window, as does a child standing there. Wilson returns with the wrench, and clobbers the guy.
CB continues fighting crime in this way until the city, you know, is up in arms. In civvies again, he sees Bacon leading a drugged out Tyler, accompanied by several thugs. Wilson accosts, and gets beaten up. He follows Bacon to his digs, puts on his suit, jumps the fence and creeps up to the house. Seeing Tyler in drugged extremis, he smashes a window and invokes the Crimson Bolt. Bacon’s thugs shoot at him and he runs away. He manages to escape but receives a bullet wound in the leg.
He finds his way to Page’s apartment. She realizes who, or what, he is and not only helps him, she wants to join him. She makes her own suit, and calls herself Boltie as his sidekick. It’s a cute outfit, green and yellow, what you’d expect from a cosplayer. She poses, mock heroic and mock fashion model.
We then see them sitting next to the same dumpster. She’s bored, wants to be pro-active. She remembers someone who keyed her friend’s car. home so they go to teach him his lesson. As the door opens, CB tackles him. They wrestle then Boltie takes a small statue and brains the guy. Again, crunch and gore.
Back to her apartment. He remonstrates against such violence, and she admits to excessive enthusiasm. During the attack she’s exclaiming and swearing. It’s really funny until she clobbers the guy. CB scolds her language and some of her actions as inappropriate. Well, later, she comes into his bedroom and wants to have sex. He wants to remain true to Liv Tyler. She wriggles and gyrates and climbs on him, which he suffers. Yet another unpleasant and questionable moment in the movie.
They realize that they need more firepower, so he develops some incendiaries. At night, they attack Bacon’s complex. Bacon’s in the midst of a drug deal. His customer takes a shine to Tyler and Bacon hands her over to him. It gets worse.
CB’s incendiaries are violently destructive, ripping bodies apart. Boltie’s in a rapture of angry excitement. And then she gets hit in the face with a bullet. That shocked me. So did Tyler’s screaming as she’s raped, hearing which, Bacon shrugs. The rapist returns, concerned about the explosions. He’s pissed that Bacon’s defense is so bad, and Bacon, pissed himself, shoots the guy.
CB is crazed. He slams one thug’s head on the floor until brains spew out. And I’m trying to remember how he manages killing Bacon but perhaps I stopped reception. Everyone’s dead except Liv and Rainn.
They get together again for a couple of weeks, then she leaves, to marry wholesomely. Rainn gets a cat. The End.
The writer/director was completely tone deaf with the juxtaposition of humour and horror. It is fair for me to expect a winning, quirky, humourous movie, from the slogan “Shut up, crime” to the goofy visions, to Page’s animation, and so on. Now, you could look at the film as a response to the vigilantism of superheroes, but there aren’t no superheroes. It does not relate to anything in Real World Inc. In the final fight, the movie resorts to cartoonish Bang! and Pow! plastered over moments of violence, like in comics and the Batman television series. It’s just disharmony to let the violence roar so.
In the end, we can say Wilson’s character is autistic, and Page’s is crazy. Wilson looked like he’d be charming, a big teddy bear, but he wore thin with crazy righteous rage. Bacon and Page seemed to have fun. Tyler hardly had lines.
The trailers before Super were all indy cred movies, that maybe should have warned me of what was to come. One had Natalie Portman as, I think, the stepmother who must overcome all the prior hurt to reach her stepson. I mean, jeez. Movies where name actors take a pay cut to look like they can act.