Thursday 20 September 2018 photo 3/6
The American Hero
Melvin, a reluctant Superhero, lives only for crime, women and drugs - until he realises that the only way he will ever get to see his estranged son is to go straight and fulfil his potential as a crime fighter.
The story of a person with superhuman abilities filmed in a handheld style will inevitably cast minds back to Josh Trank's 2012 highly enjoyable breakout hit CHRONICLE. However, while AMERICAN HERO certainly offers at least a nod in that direction, it is clear from the off that this is its own film with a focus more on the man than the power.
AMERICAN HERO tells the story of Melvin (Dorff), a man gifted with the power of telekinesis and little interest in using his powers for anything worthwhile. Instead, he spends the majority of his time partying and using his powers to impress girls. Along with his wheelchair-bound best friend Lucille (Griffin), he is living a fairly wasted existence. That is until he begins to question his moral compass after a realisation that getting his life back on track will be the only way to see his estranged son.
It's a fairly conventional quest for redemption story template with a superpower thrown in to make the story a bit more sellable. It doesn't offer anything fresh to the genre but it does have its charms. In the lead role, Dorff is well cast and believable as an ordinary guy who just happens to possess this gift he has no idea how to use to his full advantage. Curiously, and rather refreshingly, it's never revealed at any point in the story how Melvin came to be this way, or indeed if there might be others like him. In the supporting role, Griffin is a hoot as the best friend/sidekick providing much of this film's wittiest moments.
British writer/director Nick Love, who is more known for his gritty British crime dramas including THE BUSINESS and THE SWEENEY, has really stepped out of his comfort zone here with this all-American comedy that boasts elements of sci-fi and superheroism. What's more, he's chosen to film AMERICAN HERO in the style of a hybrid documentary/fly-on-the-wall. It's a method that does not pay off in the way he had hoped as it makes the narrative a little confusing; at times it's clear the characters are aware they are being filmed and even address the camera, other times they're not. You can't help but wish this narrative clumsiness had been handled with a bit more care.
The moments we spend with Melvin as he contemplates his life and where he's heading provide some of the film's best moments, his interactions with Lucille are a particular joy. What is perhaps not quite as charming is the limited story arc and one particular unconvincing character development that threatens to overrule the enjoyment factor. The end conclusion also feels rushed and uninspiring.
There is definitely content here to be enjoyed, it's just a shame that a clumsy execution and weak story arc hamper some of the film's better components.
And no crime fighter!
Was this flick put together by a committee? I ask because you get lots of Melvin partying, drinking, doing drugs, fondling sexy women and hanging out with stupid drunk dudes. Then there's the scenes of Melvin reading from classic writers of philosophy and playing the piano. Then the sci-fi Melvin levitating objects as a fun pastime but he never seem able to use this magic act when needed. Example - when a bunch of drunks carry the wheelchair Lucille upstairs to party!
All I can imagine is whoever produced this boring chopped up story tried to pacify everyone on the committee! Each had an idea of what Melvin was supposed to be - a drunk, a homeless guy, a piano player, a literary genius, a father, a crime fighter, a superhero with super powers. But the crime fighting was barely noticeable.
A confusing mashed up mess of a movie.
American Hero starts off seeming as if it is going to be a fresh take on superheroes, but Nick Love, who wrote and directed, turns out to have nowhere to go with his intriguing premise.
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