Boy Wonder (film)
|Directed by||Michael Morrissey|
|Written by||Michael Morrissey|
|Music by||Irv Johnson|
Boy Wonder Productions
|Distributed by||Lightning Entertainment|
Boy Wonder is a 2010 American psychological thriller about vigilantism. The film was written and directed by Michael Morrissey and stars Caleb Steinmeyer, Zulay Henao, Bill Sage, Tracy Middendorf, Daniel Stewart Sherman, Chuck Cooper, and James Russo.
A young boy named Sean Donovan lives with his mother and abusive alcoholic father. A carjacker attacks his family one night, which results in his mother's murder. Afterward, his father Terry moves them to a nicer neighborhood.
Years later, Sean is an excellent student but has become unsocial, and he sees abuse in everyday arguments. He trains as a boxer and carries weapons at night as a vigilante. He kills an assaulter in an attempted mugging, and an eyewitness account garners the attention of Teresa Ames, who had recently been promoted to the homicide division of the NYPD. She investigates Sean, who frequents the police station as he searches for information on his mother's killer. Teresa befriends him and learns about his life, such as the fact that he speaks fluent Chinese after he angrily berates rude staff in a Chinese restaurant. Sean defends a young woman being violently abused by her pimp and strikes him with a baton before shooting him.
While riding the train, Sean encounters a homeless man verbally harassing a Chinese family and the passengers of the train. He tells the family to leave the car before putting on face paint and brutally beating the man with brass knuckles. Teresa and her partner, who happen to be on the train, investigate, but Sean eludes them. Learning that the perpetrator spoke fluent Chinese, she suspects Sean. Despite her supervisor's warning not to investigate Sean, she persists. Finally, the retired supervisor tells Teresa that the young Sean was able to clearly identify his mother's murderer from a photo book, but Terry convinced him to withdraw his statement. The murderer's identity is identified as Larry Childs, a contract killer whom Teresa arrested six months ago but managed to get a two-year sentence through a plea bargain.
As Sean walks down the street, he sees scenes of domestic violence that apparently revert to gentle arguments after he passes by. During a school party, Sean has an episodic memory recall where he remembers his mother's murderer call his father by his old boxing nickname. Enraged by the memory, he savagely beats a fellow student who has been harassing a female friend. Teresa finds a picture of Terry and the murderer and realizes that they knew each other before the attack. Sean assumes that Terry staged the attack in order to get his mother's life insurance money. Sean confronts his father, but Terry adamantly denies this. Convinced of his father's guilt, Sean shoots and kills Terry. Teresa tracks down Sean, who states someone broke into their home and killed his father, and she disposes of the murder weapon.
Sometime later, Sean sends a letter to Larry, who is currently serving his two-year sentence. In the letter Sean expresses his forgiveness to Larry but pleads with him to reveal the truth of his mother's murder: was his father involved? He puts an empty envelope, a red stamp, and a black stamp together with the letter, and asks Larry to reply to him with a black stamp for his father's guilt or a red stamp for his father's innocence. The stamp Larry uses is poisoned with Tricelaron and kills him. When the letter arrives, Sean stares at the red stamp on it.
- Caleb Steinmeyer as Sean Donovan
- Zulay Henao as Teresa Ames
- James Russo as Larry Childs
- Bill Sage as Terry Donovan
- Tracy Middendorf as Mary Donovan
- Chuck Cooper as Bill Baldwin
Cinematographer Chris LaVasseur used a RED One camera to shoot the film. He used the digital intermediate process to tweak the colors according to director Michael Morrissey's desires. Morrissey, who had never worked with a RED One camera before, was initially skeptical, as he found the colors to be too saturated. LaVasseur was able to demonstrate to him that this could be easily corrected. Filming took place in Canarsie, Brooklyn, New York.
The film received mixed reviews from critics. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports that 40% of professional critics gave the film a positive review, with a rating average of 6.4 out of 10. Ronnie Scheib of Variety wrote, "Morrissey displays a flair for moody atmospherics as his protagonist wanders Gotham's streets and subways at night, but the film relies too heavily on cryptic flashbacks and deliberate gaps in the narrative to create suspense, revealing rather than fleshing out connective tissue." Kirk Honeycutt of The Hollywood Reporter described it as an intriguing and smart exploration of vigilantism that could become a cult film. Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times rated it 3.5/4 stars and wrote, "In a genre populated with formulas and dreck, Boy Wonder is an ambitious exception, well-made, drawing us in." Jeannette Catsoulis of The New York Times wrote, "Despite its aura of rebellious cool, Boy Wonder is as frigid and empty as Sean’s vengeful heart." J. R. Jones of the Chicago Reader wrote, "Visually and rhetorically, this is indistinguishable from a network cop show."
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- Boy Wonder. Rotten Tomatoes. Flixter. Retrieved 13 January 2013.
- Scheib, Ronnie (October 20, 2011). "Review: 'Boy Wonder'". Variety. Retrieved January 30, 2015.
- Honeycutt, Kirk (October 21, 2011). "Boy Wonder: Film Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved January 30, 2015.
- Ebert, Roger (October 26, 2011). "Boy Wonder". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved January 30, 2015 – via RogerEbert.com.
- Catsoulis, Jeannette (October 20, 2011). "A Protector of Women With a Chip on His Shoulder". The New York Times. Retrieved January 30, 2015.
- Jones, J. R. "Boy Wonder". Chicago Reader. Retrieved January 30, 2015.