Indie movie Super has the same premise as Kick-Ass – a delusional loner re-invents himself as a crime-fighting superhero. Both films feature gruesome violence when their crazy vigilantes spring into action, but whereas Kick-Ass disguised its unsettling subtext beneath a hip and stylish surface, the scuzzy, low-budget Super forces the viewer to confront its disturbing side head on.
Played by Rainn Wilson (Dwight in the US version of The Office), the film’s half-baked hero is a short-order cook who flips when his recovering-addict wife (Liv Tyler) runs off with the local big-shot drug dealer (Kevin Bacon). Inspired by a batty Christian TV show featuring a mask-and-cape-clad do-gooder, Wilson’s Frank creates his own superhero persona, the Crimson Bolt, and starts laying into the neighbourhood ne’er do wells with a pipe wrench.
The addled Frank doesn’t discriminate between serious felony and petty transgressions, such as queue-jumping or key-scratching cars, but his antics attract the admiring attention of comic-book store clerk Libby (a fearlessly wacky performance from Ellen Page). Deducing his real identity, she signs herself up as his sidekick, Boltie, and proves even more deranged and bloodthirsty than her mad mentor.
Writer-director James Gunn, maker of cult horror comedy Slither, doesn’t appear to be fully in command of his tonally uneven material, but at its best Super’s mix of absurd humour and gory violence creates an ambitious, darkly dramatic and subversive movie.
Released on DVD & Blu-ray by G2 Pictures on 1st August.