FIVE STAR FILMS #38: Super (James Gunn, 2010)

superslideSHUT UP CRIME! Director James Gunn flings his vision of a wannabe “Super-Hero” in our faces, a hypnotically brutal, darkly funny tale of a short order cook’s quest of vengeance which will shock, paint your funny bone black, but at times touch you. Frank Darrbo’s (Rainn Wilson) life is a constant stream of middle of the road numbness until he meets and marries reformed drug addict Sarah (Liv Tyler). When his momentary glimpse of happiness is car-jacked by too-cool-for-school drug dealer Jacques (Kevin Bacon), Frank’s ensuing misery and frequent “visions” culminates in the Crimson Bolt… a melting pot of rage, bad needle work and inappropriate uses of a pipe wrench.

The evolution of the Crimson Bolt is a mutation of “religious” influence & repressed emotions, which leads to a shaky friendship with comic store clerk Libby (Ellen Paige), the human equivalent of a can of foul mouth energy drink. Frank struggles with the dilemma in his search for justice/revenge, avoiding injury, being arrested and coping with an over zealous side-kick “Boltie” (Libby). The newly formed crime-namic duo have their collective tractor beams locked on a collision course with Jacques and his crew, which escalates to a blood drenched explosive final confrontation… Super is a FIVE STAR FILM; its like having your back scratched with a sledge-hammer, but here’s 5 reasons why…..

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1. Director James Gunn.

Gunn has an innate ability to make you both cringe and laugh in unison, mixing ultra violence and dark humour in blender and serving it with a cocktail parasol. His scripts are vibrant, well constructed, touching and have a realness that you can identify with. His humour is a subtle as a sardine milkshake, but it’s in his boldness that are like a breath of fresh air we so desperately need. His choice of soundtrack is also I believe a key to why his films work. Super has a fast paced collection of pinkish sound but Gunn finds a way to work Eric Carmen in and make it cool (kudos too to Tyler Bates’ score). This is an exciting director and if you haven’t seen Slither, it well worth a look too….

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2. Rainn Wilson/Frank Darrbo

WOW… what a performance! Wilson is electric. He creates a Frank you pity, you laugh at, he makes you cringe and at times to cheer for him. His evolution as a character is both dramatic and subtle, from the depths of personal despair to the seething rage unleashed. Part Travis Bickle, part Captain Kaos, Wilson serves us an emotion charged omelette made with the good brown eggs. Part of the reason this film succeeds is the journey of Frank, one Wilson very aptly leads us on.

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3. Ellen Paige/Libby

This pint sized Canadian uncorks a barrage of energy, bad language and unbridled enthusiasm as Libby/Boltie, I’m pretty sure she could take Robin on a bad day. Paige is adorably offensive, inappropriately cheeky and TNT in a leotard. With a manic pace, a constant flush of words emanating from her that keep you on your toes she’s able to keep you wondering where she will take you next. Paige delivers in buckets a performance that makes you all “gooshy”…

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4. Kevin Bacon/Jacques

Mmmm Bacon! This big screen journeyman is a perfect choice for Drug Dealer on the way up, Jacques. His performance is swarthy/sauve, a bad guy who tries to be fair.. but only to a point. Bacon brings a likeable but best beware feel to Jacques and when it comes time to see what he’s made of he lets loose in a way which leaves little doubt of his villain qualities. Bacon’s Jacques succeeds in bringing the best and worst out of the Crimson Bolt as a bad guy should!

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5.  Fillion/Rooker

In a 2 for 1 deal, amazing little supporting roles from Nathan Fillion & Michael Rooker. Fillion appears as religious hero, The Holy Avenger, his constant on TV screen battles with the “Haxon” inspired Devil (played by Gunn) are part inspiration for Franks transformation into the Crimson Bolt. Fillion is great fun. He embraces and has a ball with his role; it’s wicked stuff. Rooker appears as Abe, the “sugar” addicted head of Jacques goons, well what can I say, what film couldn’t do with some Rooker, the man with probably the best evil grin going around, often the difference between a good film and a great film is the supporting cast, well Super has it (Apologises to Liv Tyler & Gregg Henry, but 5’s the limit & I already cheated) in bunches.

Dave Grenfell – follow Dave on Twitter here: @nowshowinghigh