Boy Wonder applies a darker formula to the modern day vigilante superhero trend that has become popular in movies today (Kick-Ass, Super). The thing about those two films is that they were clever, entertaining, and all around quality films. Boy Wonder doesn’t attempt to be like those films. It’s more like Christopher Nolan’s Batman series with its dark and dramatic undertones. The problem with that is that the writing and the performances in this film simply cannot support any type of heavy drama, and end up resulting in a lackluster film.
At a young age Sean Donovan watched his mother get murdered about a foot in front of him, and he has spent all of his life since then in a state of shock which has culminated in psychopathic behaviors. Sean wants justice and, more importantly, vengeance. Vengeance against the scum who have managed to hurt people and get away with it which is, oddly enough, exactly what Sean does throughout the entire film. My first problem.
My second problem comes from the character of Sean and his progression and interactions. Sean kills with no remorse and never feels any grief over his actions thereby solidifying the fact that he must be a psychopath. Right? Well if this is the case then why didn’t the writers embrace the fact that they were creating a highly deranged mentally ill character? Rather than continuing with him being a cold killer they decide to put him in a variety of situations where he “experiences” emotion. There are two that stick out to me the most. The first is when he’s sitting on a bench talking to his new friend Detective Ames (A hotshot new homicide detective) and he’s explaining why he can’t move on about his mother. I don’t know if they wrote it this way or Caleb Steinmeyer was unable to convey this properly but it seemed like he was trying to cry or express sadness in some way. I got that he was trying, but he wasn’t very successful. That is how I would sum up his performance. He never successfully conveyed anything but anger in any part of the film except the ending. This comes to my next problem: the acting.
The acting in this film is terrible, excluding the last twenty minutes of the film. In fact for everything regarding this film you should exclude the last twenty minutes of them film as they are infinitely better than the rest of it. All of the lines are delivered without the smallest bit of conviction. This can be applied to all of the actors excluding Bill Sage as Seans father and Chuck Cooper with a very small part as the leader of the homicide department and Sean’s first real helper, Billy. Allow me to talk about Billy for a moment. Billy was the only one helping Sean, he was his friend, and yet they chose to give him the smallest of parts and make his character an asshole. I still have no idea why they chose to do this as they could have made him the one who attempts to save Sean which would’ve worked much better.
Anyway, the delivery of all of the lines is wooden which can either be attributed to the lack of talent in the actors or the generally stale dialogue. All of these characters are in these huge emotional situations whether they be divorce that the writer just seemed to throw in to add more drama, and then left them all unexplored. This left the film entirely overcomplicated with unnecessary story-lines. There is no better example than that of Detective Ames with her divorce and loss of custody. You see her child once and yet it’s brought up at least five times or more. I feel like it was supposed to add importance and to highlight her sacrifice, but I think I was too distracted attempting to use my decoder ring to figure what emotions the characters were feeling. This shouldn’t be a 90 minute film, it should be a two and a half hour film with ample time to explore the group of supporting characters and their personal stories. Either that or they shouldn’t have mentioned them at all.
At this point I think i have touched on all of the problems I had with the film (Writing, acting) so now let me touch on the positives. The setting and the cinematography is great. It has the very dark gritty feel down correctly it just has nothing to support the aesthetics. Finally comes the one thing that made this film somewhat worth watching: The finale. Without spoiling anything the finale of this film is excellent. The last fifteen minutes are when Sean really snaps and just goes on a type of vengeance-induced psychotic rampage that wraps itself up with a true ending. It doesn’t attempt to fix anything or make it any less depressing. It just happens, and I congratulate the writer for doing that.
Overall it was a mess of a film that I strongly disliked. The worst I’ve seen in a while.