Peter Stebbings feature directing debut Defendor is not your typical superhero movie. Actually, it features no super powers, and the vigilantism is more Home Alone than Death Wish. It’s a character piece with both dramatic and comic elements. Defendor successfully attempts to both subvert and inhabit the superhero genre in a much MUCH different way than Matthew Vaughn’s upcoming adaptation of Kick-Ass.
Woody Harrelson stars as a possibly borderline mentally challenged man who decides to fight crime under the nickname Defendor. He paints a black mask over his eyes, wears a big D made from duct tape across his chest, and even speaks in a much deeper voice, ala Batman. Defendor befriends a prostitute played by Kat Dennings, who might have information on how to find “Captain Industry,” the evil villain he’s been after for years. Defendor’s origin story is told using brief flashbacks, giving us insight into his childhood. And while he may not have gotten bitten by a radioactive spider, or landed on earth from another planet, we get to see why Defendor came to be.
While a real life super villain might not exist (or does he?), the city gangs are very real, and operated with the apparent help of crooked cops. Dennings isn’t believable as a crack-smoking junkie street prostitute, but she is able to make you forget about the miscasting, especially in the more dramatically charged moments of the second half.
The film was shot on a small budget, in Canada, and you can tell. It is not for everybody, and even after reading this review, is probably not what you’re expecting. I’m just happy to see a superhero film made outside of the Marvel/DC Hollywood juggernaut, and this film is a worth rental at very least.
/Film Rating: 7.5 out of 10