Just like a good sports movie, everyone loves to root for the underdog. In the same way, I am always on the lookout for independent films that have the power to transcend their own subcategory and get a deserved spot in the limelight alongside blockbuster counterparts. Thanks to Netflix and other streaming services it has become far easier to access numerous films that would have been otherwise unavailable to me. Often times, the lack of budget is glaringly apparent. The lack of funds seeps through the cracks of the project, manifesting itself in one of a thousand different outlets. But that’s the name of the game. As much as I would love to sit down, watch a low budget independent film and have it absolutely blow me away (not a far fetched hope) often times you have to take the good with the bad. With no studio influence, independent filmmakers are free to explore their voice and their craft as they see fit.
Boy Wonder is just such a film. Michael Morrissey presents a Batman-esque tale of a boy that takes a horrific event from his past and uses his anger as fuel to bring a brutal type of vigilante justice to his neighborhood. As a young boy, Sean Donovan sat in the back seat of his mothers car and watched as she was killed by a carjacker. Now in High School, Sean aces his tests, avoids most social interactions and spends most of his spare time at the local police station. As a new detective begins her job at the same station, she becomes interested in Sean’s story and the case surrounding his mother’s murder. As the film progresses we learn more and more about Sean’s past and the relationship he has with his father. Intermingled with the dramatic elements are scenes of brutal street justice in which he observes people hurting others and stopping it at all costs.
The movie has flaws, to put it lightly. Some of the acting is stale, the dialogue is far more expository than is necessary. At times it seems like we’re being forced to relate to some of the minor characters when it is neither necessary nor wanted. That being said, Caleb Steinmeyer portrays a truly interesting character in Sean Donovan. It’s an extremely similar backstory with the Batman mythos, but with a financially poor protagonist that has less control and discipline. The story is dark and brutal, almost to a fault, but it presents an interesting set of circumstances with a surprisingly strong leading man. The film itself is shot beautifully, often times giving off the sense that it was much more than an independent, low budget film.