directed by James Gunn
The opening credits were pretty cool, and the opening shot of Rainn Wilson crying, then his VO narration saying “People look stupid when they cry” had my hopes climbing from wary skepticism to hopeful excitement. Sadly, James Gunn’s dark and madcap take on the superhero genre is inconsistent at best and ludicrous at worst. In going for oddball realism, Gunn ends up shining a very bright light on the points in the film when he throws realism out the window (i.e. there is no way Wilson would have made it off the street after cold cocking that drug dealer). Wilson is so so as Frank, whose stripper wife (Liv Tyler was okay) leaves him for shit bag Jacques. After reeling from the loss, Frank has a vision in which he believes he is chosen by God to help rid the world of crime. Inspired, he dons a costume and avenges as The Crimson Bolt, doling out his version of justice with a pipe wrench and a wacky (but good, if I do say so myself) slogan, “Shut up, crime!” Punishable infractions vary, including dealing drugs, soliciting sex and cutting in line, but when Frank adopts an overzealous sidekick (Ellen Page is hands down the high point of this film) named Boltie, his plans get a little too grand for his britches. Gunn, whose comically disgusting Slither made me very excited to see what he could do in the future, missed the mark with this film, but Kevin Bacon was great as megascum Jacques, sleaze ball and wannabe gangster, and the film is definitely inspired (if that’s the appropriate word). The problem here is that the film’s high points are only okay, and okay will never make up for not okay. At least in Nicolas Winding Refn’s scorcher Bronson, the high points were insanely high, which made the weak points much easier to endure. Only die hard Gunn fans (do those exist?) will find this film truly satisfying, but Ellen Page alone is almost worth the price of admission.