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Stars: Rainn Wilson, Ellen Page, Kevin Bacon, Liv Tyler, Michael Rooker, Gregg Henry, Nathan Fillion, Linda Cardellini, Stephen Blackehart, James Gunn, William Katt

Director: James Gunn

Seeing this and The Beaver in the same week was an unsettling experience: two very strange films. This one begins as a black comedy, but soon becomes engulfed in thuggish, sickening violence.

Sour-faced comedian Wilson, a sort of American version of Paul Merton, is Frank, a hash slinger whose wife (Tyler), a recovering drug addict, falls into the clutches of narcotics dealer Jack (Bacon, who seems to have discovered the secret of eternal youth). Resolving to rescue her, Frank dons an ill-fitting superhero costume, and takes to the streets as the Crimson Bolt.

He gets beaten up for his pains by Jack's goons, and decides he needs a weapon. This proves to be a huge wrench with which he beats people's brains out - like a couple of queue jumpers. He's soon joined by a mega-hyper comic-book salesgirl (a career misstep for Page), who buys her own costume and, as 'Boltie', accompanies him on his bone-smashing exploits.

Invading Jack's stronghold in the middle of a drugs deal, they blow the guys up with hand-made bombs, set others alight and, well, bash people's brains out. Oh yes, and one character gets half their face blown off with a shotgun. It's twice as violent as Kick-Ass, but only half as good.

David Quinlan

USA 2010. UK Distributor: G2 Pictures. Technicolor.
97 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 18.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 2, Violence/Horror 2, Drugs 2, Swearing 3.

Review date: 02 Jul 2011