Short-order cook Frank D’Arbo (Rainn Wilson) is one of life’s biggest jokes cursed by bad luck. His friends used to piss on him at school, his prom date slept with the official photographer on the night of the prom and, more recently, his ex- drug addict wife, Sarah (Liv Tyler) has left him for local gangster, Jacques (Kevin Bacon).
For comfort, Frank falls back on his religion, his favourite TV show ‘The Holy Avenger’ and the numerous hallucinations of demons that plague him on a regular basis. This combination leads to a OTT vision that encourages Frank to become The Crimson Bolt; a superhero whose only power is a big fuck-off wrench.
As The Crimson Bolt, Frank fights crime in accordance to a moral code only a sociopath would devise. At one stage, he nearly kills two people for pushing in front of him at the cinema. He is joined in his crusade against the underworld by Ellen Page’s comic book clerk who is probably even more psychotic than Frank.
Wilson and Page are fantastic as the main protagnists. Wilson’s naive Frank contrasting beautifully with the primal scream in a leotard that is Page. Bacon is vicious as Jacques the gangster and he clearly loves his scenery with a slab of ham.
In terms of violence, Super is more akin to the Kick Ass comic books than the Kick Ass movie. It’s sparse but graphic. Frank stops a pimp from running away by dropping a breeze block on his head from a window three floors up. Rather than encouraging the viewer to become involved in our ‘heroes’ world and spur them on, it makes us take a step back and wonder whether the end justifies the means.
Super is less about being a superhero and watching Frank’s spiritual journey. His a twisted up ball of rage that needs an outlet. Even as the Crimson Bolt, his ‘moral’ code only helps so far and after a scene of sexual abuse and another vision, it is only then that he tries to take control of his rather naff life. The ending brings an emotional punch that I certainly wasn’t expecting and it’s stuck with me long after I saw it.
Super lives in the shadow of Kick Ass and, as a result, probably doesn’t get the credit it deserves. Which is a shame because even Kick Ass scribe, Mark Millar, has encouraged people to see it. It’s definitely a twisted, funny, violent, bittersweet film that needs to be experienced.
It also has a pool of vomit in the form of Liv Tyler. That was pretty weird.