The red menace

Release date: 8 July
18 * 96 mins
Distributor: G2 Pictures
Director: James Gunn
Cast: Rainn Wilson, Ellen Page, Kevin Bacon, Liv Tyler, Nathan Fillion, Michael Rooker

Super is the sudden kick in the crotch this summer of square-jawed superheroes never knew it needed.

American Office star Rainn Wilson is Frank D’arbo, aka The Crimson Bolt. Frank is a superhero with no superpowers and no tragic origin story, just a deluded mission to save his wife (Tyler) from drug lord Jacques (Bacon), a sociopathic whack-attack sidekick (Page) with a monkey wrench for caving in the skulls of anyone who butts in line in front of him at the cinema.

Though superficially similar to Kick-Ass, the comparisons end with the concept and ultra-violent, ultra-sweary content. Super can be occasionally quite touching, but it’s stock trade is a gleefully deranged tonal tapas – sickening bloodshed and midnight black humour shouldn’t work side by side, but somehow it does and its strength lies in its absurdity.

The relatively small budget also works in its favour, the film deriving much appeal from its ramshackle, cut and paste charm. At times it can be too offbeat for its own good with a hipper-than-thou soundtrack and goofy comic-book graphics punctuating the action, but it never feels incongruous with Frank’s unstable worldview.

Subversive in the extreme, Super does its utmost to be unlovable. The characters are universally loathsome, violence is a means to an end and it puts Nathan Fillion in a shocking wig as a propagandist Holy Crusader. But it never fails to astonish with its audacity. As far as movie titles reviewing themselves go – Super comes pretty close.

Jordan Farley