Boy Wonder (Michael Morrissey, 2010)
Imagine that, as a child, you saw your mother murdered. Imagine that the police have come up with nothing in the twelve years between then and now, no matter how much you stick around. (One character in the movie says that lead character Sean Donovan has become the precinct’s unofficial mascot). Imagine you think you could do better. What would you do?
Variations on the theme have populated any number of recent movies, from various attempts at the Batman franchise to Super to Kick-Ass. The best of the bunch, though, you may not have heard of: Boy Wonder, a low-key thriller that came right out of left field. First time writer/director Michael Morrissey got his start in Hollywood as a producer of reality TV shows, mostly centered around home renovation (First Time Flippers, Ten Grand in Your Hand, etc.). As of this writing, Boy Wonder is his only fictional effort. I know reality TV probably pays the bills better, but for my money, Morrissey needs to ditch the networks and start doing this stuff full-time, because his debut movie knocks one out of the park.
This is normally where I would put the plot summary, but I kind of did that in the first paragraph. I’m sure you concluded from what I wrote up there that Sean Donovan (TV character actor Caleb Steinmeyer in his first feature appearance, and as of this writing, last—he seems to have gone behind the camera as a production assistant) turns to vigilantism both as an outlet for his pent-up rage and as a way of tracking down his mother’s killer. Thus, Sean is playing both sides of the field—enlisting the help of the police department by day while evading them at night.
When it comes right down to it, there’s not a great deal of plot to this, but that helps the movie stay on track, and it also leaves ample room for Morrissey to develop his characters. That’s what takes the movie from standard revenge thriller into the stratosphere. Ironically, it’s also most likely why the movie went nowhere upon its initial release. This is not a movie where stuff blows up; it is more interested in the mentality of its protagonist than it is his deeds (though don’t get me wrong, there’s enough of that to keep you jumping now and again). You probably missed this one the first time around, as almost everyone did. But if you like intelligent, well-paced, slow thrillers, catch this at your earliest opportunity. ****