Movie Review: Boy Wonder

Sometimes from tragedy something amazing is born.  Imagine a boy, shocked by the violent death of a parent.  As he grows toward manhood, he hones his body and mind to prepare himself for pursuit of his mother’s killer.  Cloaked, he acts only at night, slowly catching the attention of the police as he faces down vicious criminals.  Now give that movie a title, “Boy Wonder”, and you expect a good if slightly derivative superhero origin story.

That’s not what we have here.  In fact, the title is a bit of misdirection like much of this tightly-scripted, dark, vigilante thriller.  Although the movie might have intention to portray the tragic boy, Sean Donovan, as a gritty comic book hero, the character lacks Batman’s moral code that keeps him from becoming just like the criminals he targets.  The tagline on the poster, “Beware the Hero”, is appropriate and contributes to the superhero/thriller misdirection.  Again, if you put any superhero notions aside and watch the film for what it is giving you, you’ll be rewarded.

The movie is dark and violent.  The acting is all top notch with a special nod to Daniel Stewart Sherman in a role which could have come across as something much less three-dimensional.  The plot is creative and engaging.  You keep trying to get a step ahead of it.  I don’t want to step in any spoilers but the beautiful Zulay Henao gives a rich performance as the cop in the cop/vigilante dance with the film’s lead, Caleb Steinmeyer.

As to the look of the film, most of the scenes are gritty and realistic with typical cinematic touches to the flashback scenes.  The locations feel true to the story and the movie was filmed in Brooklyn and New York City by natives, not farmed out to faux New Yorks of Toronto or elsewhere.  That really helps the feel of it all especially when the events of the story could easily be re-interpreted in the unrealistic lens of superhero comics.  The setting keeps the plot firmly grounded in reality.

So I would recommend the movie with 4.5 stars for adult audiences only.  Just don’t expect to see do-gooders in tights capturing colorful villains.  More information at the film’s website.

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