The film begins when Arthur Poppington (Woody Harrelson), a construction worker, is evaluated by Dr. Ellen Park (Sandra Oh), a psychiatrist. At first, she asks him why he assaulted a dry cleaning store owner, Mr. Debrofkowitz (Bryan Renfro). As he opens to Dr. Park, Arthur reveals that he has assumed the identity of a superhero without powers called Defendor. During the night, Defendor/Arthur roams the street of Hammer City to fight criminals. In the process, he befriends Kat (Kat Dennings), a young prostitute, and has to face Chuck Dooney (Elias Koteas), a corrupted police officer. In his fight against crime, Defendor is looking for some Captain Industry. Besides, Arthur believes that Captain Industry killed his mom (Charlotte Sullivan).
With the existence of all the films that more or less ridicule the genre of superhero films, Defendor certainly doesn't reinvent the wheel. Obviously, one should expect to see some speeches about the true meaning of heroism or even Defendor's clumsiness while he's in action. However, the fact that Arthur is a delusional man who believes he makes a difference by being a vigilante is a an added value. In this film, Woody Harrelson's performance shifts between a humorous and dark tone. As a result of that, while we have difficulties to take Arthur/Defendor seriously, Harrelson makes us feel empathy for his character.
With that said, the film's smart storyline is a brilliant study of character made on a shoestring budget. By following Arthur/Defendor, we see a man who rationalizes his desire to fight crime while facing the society's mixed opinions about him. Besides, Harrelson is well supported by great supporting actors like Kat Dennings, Michael Kelly and Sandra Oh.
Finally, without being boring, Defendor sometimes has a problem with its pace. Hopefully, Defendor is quite entertaining for anyone who needs to laugh at the genre of superhero films that has been massively exploited by Americans.
|Starring:||Woody Harrelson, Elias Koteas and Kat Dennings|