His task? To clean up the streets of Hamilton, Ont. It sounds like the kind of thing we’ve seen before, but Canadian actor-turned-director Peter Stebbings puts a unique spin on Arthur’s story.
His goal is to infiltrate the lair of Captain Industry, the crime king-pin Defendor believes to be responsible for all of Hammer Town’s civic woes.
On his journey he befriends a drug addict with a heart of gold (Kat Dennings) and battles a corrupt cop (Elias Koteas).
On paper Woody Harrelson’s role looks unpromising. He’s a disillusioned man with mental health issues who sinks into a fantasy world to help deal with the pain of a troubled past.
We’ve seen this before, but Harrelson’s mix of sincerity and pathos in the reading of the character breathes life into a role that could easily have fallen into cliché.
He’s aided by a script—written by Stebbings—which gives him room to firmly establish the character, both as a superhero who believes guns are for cowards and as a real person who is tormented by his mother’s descent into a world of prostitution and drug abuse.
It’s a solid performance that provides an anchor for the entire movie.
Gritty and very funny, Defendor is a hard movie to categorize. It’s not exactly a comedy, nor is it a crime drama.
It’s somewhere in between. I’m not sure if that indefinable quality will make this a harder sell at the box office or not — people like to pigeonhole their movies — but for those willing to be go along for the ride, the movie is an enjoyably genre-busting good time.
Like its main character, Defendor is a bit delusional — it’s a low budget superhero flick going up against the Spidermans and Iron Men of the world — but like its main character, I like its spunk.