Much more violent than I expected, as I was just going in thinking this would be a comedy spoof on vigilante heroism. I know James Gunn was at the helm but I wasn’t prepared for the amount of brilliant violence this superhero-drama-comedy has. None of this is a problem for me at least, I liked the dark tone and avenging story arc.
After sleazy Jacques (Kevin Bacon) takes away Frank’s (Rainn Wilson) wife, Frank ends up hearing the words of God and begins a life of superhero justice to try and get Sarah (Liv Tyler) back. It’s a bloody trail of finding himself as he joins up with eager beaver Libby (Ellen Page) as they become the Crimson Bolt and…Boltie!
I like this small but cool genre of superheroes without powers, it’s interesting to see how the movies take a look at the hero in question. This movie did release at the same sort of time as the graphic novel based ‘Kick-Ass’, but this one even if it’s not as fun has a better hold on the person underneath the costume. The way we feel for Frank as he’s subjected to a life of hurt, bullying and being at the bottom, this plus the frankly odd but yet funny words of God and a TV Network avenger help create an interesting narrative for Frank.
James Gunn utilises on his B-movie style seen from ‘Slither’ and gives this 2010 feature a heck load of blood and some Slither creature inspired tentacles for good measure. There isn’t any action sequences per say but there are some brilliant uses of harsh judgement on wrong doers throughout, all that make you realise this is what would happen if people switched and became costumed advocates of good. The red pipe-wrench is amusingly brutal and the buddy drama between Frank and Libby is well scripted by Gunn.
Admittedly, there are a couple of occasions when I thought this film took a tiptoe step too far over the line. The main one being the awkward scene between a horny Libby and a half asleep Frank that ends up going somewhere you can imagine but don’t want to. It just didn’t sit right with me in any way at all. Their friendship was good but stretching that felt wrong and soured the movie.
Everything does also lead, quite limply up to a final act shoot out, which never feels tense or a mountain for Frank to climb, somehow you expect this average Joe to square up to criminal lords and win. Though amongst the thin characters and not overly exciting last act of vengeance, there is an unexpected moment that leaves Frank more motivated and I liked the film for going somewhere like that. As mentioned before, this film succeeds in following Frank well and you do feel like you understand him.
Rainn Wilson plays this beaten down shlob very well, crying ugly, raging madly and running awkwardly he steps up to the mantle of crimson hero rather well and becomes a deranged yet spiritual figure. Ellen Page is off the handle loopy at times, her comic obsessed character sparks off the more grumbly Frank greatly. It’s almost manic how she goes about being loud, seductive, annoying and excited. Kevin Bacon has little to do but pulls off the charismatic note as Bacon only can. Nathan Fillion gets a mention because of his costumed Holy Avenger being overly preachy yet funny.
With an uneven mix of funny and dark violence, this is a weird hero movie but one that does make you laugh in places. I think you perhaps have to have a faintly twisted mind to appreciate where this film dares to tread.