Dallas IFF ’11: Boy Wonder – Review


Despite the title, this is not a comic book movie

Maybe it’s telling about the state of the world today that vigilante movies seem to be on the rise. Last year’s Kick Ass and this year’s Super might be more extreme cases of the genre, complete with costumed crusaders, but the genre can also be reserved. The very title of Boy Wonder might first remind audiences of brightly colored comic book-ish heroes, but the film is darker; more along the lines of Dirty Harry or Punisher.

Sean Donovan is a troubled teen who spends his free time either honing his fighting skills, or looking up files at the police station. When he was just a kid, he witnessed his mother’s murder and he’s been relentlessly searching for the killer ever since. His logic is, that if he stumbles upon a man committing an act of violence towards a woman, he’ll eventually find his mother’s killer. So by day, he’s a typical awkward high school kid and by night, he’s a vigilante out to serve justice.

These random acts of vigilante justice catch the eye of Detective Ames, and she attempts to bond with Sean. She warns him against what he is doing, but he is determined that the due process system is flawed and his way is the only way to effectively find the man who has destroyed his life.

The performance by Caleb Steinmeyer as Sean is going to be a break out role for him, should this film get some more publicity. He’s acted in a few prominent roles on TV (True Blood, Lost), but this is his first starring role in a feature film. Boy Wonder is the first feature length film by writer/director Michael Morrissey, and overall, the script is tight and gritty, with very dark elements including domestic abuse. The violence is sporadic, and honestly I feel that when the film veers away from that, the film loses itself. Throughout the second act, the film attempts to further the investigation of a man currently in prison for the murder of Sean’s mother, develops the relationship between Sean and Ames, and it ends up suffering in pacing.

The film regains its footing in the third act though; the climactic ending is satisfying, ties the entire film together, and begs for a repeat viewing. Don’t let the title fool you, Boy Wonder is not a comic book superhero film. It’s a fascinating story about an overachieving high school boy hell bent on finding his mother’s murderer, and the consequences that go along with taking the law into your own hands.

Director: Michael Morrissey
Notable Cast: Caleb Steinmeyer, Zulay Henao, Bill Sage, James Russo
Writer(s): Michael Morrissey

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