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Movie Review: “Defendor”

February 24th, 2010 by Jordan Bonitatis Content Operations

If Travis Bickle grew up reading comic books, Taxi Driver may have looked a bit more like Defendor. It may seem that Defendor aims to be an escapist slapstick romp that turns superhero conventions on their ear but, before long, we are given the backstory of troubled hero Arthur Poppington and see shades of the dark realism that keeps this film from flying into Farrelly brothers territory. Thanks to a terrific performance by Woody Harrelson (a recent Oscar nominee for his turn in The Messenger), Poppington is given unexpected depth and sentimentality.

While I’m not suggesting that Defendor is of the same echelon as Taxi Driver, it does explore the moral grey area a bit more than I had expected. It quite stealthily raises questions about heroism and citizen responsibility. A script like this could easily feel like an after-school special, with its campy message obviously veiled by bouts of humor and action, but impressive acting — namely Harrelson and Elias Koteas as the hilariously patronized victim of Poppington’s misadventures — keep the tone balanced and honest. Thanks to these two (and Kat Dennings as a befriended teenage prostitute), Defendor deftly walks the tightrope between a gritty noir and a Pink Panther-esque blundering crime comedy.

In theaters Friday, February 26.

Jordan Bonitatis
Hulu’s Movie Trailer Guru

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