Review: Boy Wonder DVD

Boy Wonder DVDSTUDIO: Inception | DIRECTOR: Michael Morrisey | CAST: Caleb Steinmeyer, Zulay Henao, Bill Sage, James Russo, James Chen
RELEASE DATE: 11/8/2011 | PRICE: DVD $26.98
BONUSES: featurette
SPECS: R | 97  min. | Psychological crime thriller | 2.40:1 widescreen | Dolby Digital 5.1

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie  | Audio  | Video  | Overall

 

It’s tempting to lump Boy Wonder into the emerging “mortal super hero” category, but this superbly rendered indie is more Death Wish than Kick-Ass. In fact, the movie’s backstory is a retelling of the Batman origin — boy sees parent murdered, boy commits life to avenging the crime — but without stately Wayne Manor. Not even close: The troubled lad, Sean Donovan (Caleb Steinmeyer), is reared in a seedy section of Brooklyn, growing into a withdrawn teen whose widowed father (Bill Sage, TV’s Nurse Jackie) has done his awkward best to bring him up without a mother.

Boy Wonder movie scene

Caleb Steinmeyer is out for revenge in Boy Wonder.

Sean spends his non-school hours at the police station, still trying to finger the guy who offed his mom a decade earlier. He spends his nights making himself a target for pimps and dope peddlers, letting them beat the tar out of him before retaliating with lethal pent-up rage and amateur martial arts skills.

New to the precinct house is Detective Ames (Zulay Henao, Takers), whose high-level busts have earned her the grudging respect from fellow cops. Sympathetic Ames befriends the reluctant Sean and the more she gets to know him—hey, he fits the profile of the killer of these local thugs, doesn’t he? Now what?

Debuting feature film writer/director Michael Morrissey puts, as they say, the entire budget on the screen, illustrating his economically tight script with small flourishes — fluid tracking shots, convincingly detailed sets and pulse-pounding editing. Even better, he’s crafted a script with several themes that engage beyond the promised thriller action. Each scene bears some sort of ambient anger — in the background, on the street, or in a store — which generates the heat that sets Sean’s inner misery to boil. There are the themes of fatherhood, trust and forgiveness, all of them successfully addressed with the sort of cunning twist at the end that keeps screenwriters up at night polishing their work.

Morrissey clearly polished his script, and he’s got his cast and crew to believe in it. Boy Wonder is a small wonder in itself.

To hear Morrissey and company talk about it themselves, check out the making-of featurette that’s provided as a bonus feature.

 

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About Buzz

Buzz McClain reviews DVDs for Playboy magazine and is a former critic for Video Business magazine. But what he really wants to do is direct.