DVD review: “Archenemy” (2020)

“Archenemy” (2020)


Running time: 90 minutes

Written and Directed by: Adam Egypt Mortimer

Featuring: Joe Manganiello, Paul Scheer, Glenn Howerton, Zolee Griggs and Amy Seimetz

Indigo: “I wanna make it rain … we should be going viral.” 

Recently released on DVD is the sci-fi/action movie “Archenemy” (2020) featuring Joe Manganiello in the lead role as a somewhat powerless superhero needing help from Earth’s populace, think a tiger with a thorn in its paw looking for assistance.

The movie concerns a teenager who meets a mysterious man named Max Fist, who claims he lost his superpowers after arriving from another dimension. Together, they take to the streets to wipe out a vicious crime boss and his local drug syndicate.

Over the past decade or so these types of genre movies have been prevalent throughout the world in different guises so the question really is does “Archenemy” add anything to this overstuffed genre especially since this new movie has so many limitations. One of those major limitations is its budget which does hold the movie back from establishing any kind of real environment wider than a few locations which is a real shame, one of the parts of genre movies like this that enable them to succeed is creating a three dimensional world to operate in, think “Hancock” (2010) which is a close amalgam, that had multiple real and virtual environments as well as an entire world to operate in, “Archenemy” does not.

I might be more forgiving of this movie and its writer/director Adam Egypt Mortimer if this was his first or second movie but it is not and he actually has delivered a very underrated and good movie in his earlier effort “Daniel isn’t real” (2019), another genre movie but this time a horror which does what any good low budget genre movie should do, that is provide clear characters with a plot that makes sense and operates well within its own limitations, again that word budget arises. Mortimer really misses a trick with this movie, he seems to have the talent in front of the camera but he seems to adamant in trying to put something onscreen that he really is unable to and the plot really is not that original or thought out which means right from the outset most of the audience will know exactly where this is going to end up.

In terms of casting the main character is played by Joe Manganiello who relies on his physical presence more than anything else which means he is always playing an idolised version of himself which is true of all his roles, perhaps taking a chance and playing something other than a tough guy would be a good turn for him and possibly grow his own audience and skill. The two other main actors are comedic actors Paul Scheer and Glenn Howerton who handle their characters well as most actors of their calibre do, not quite great character actors but skilled enough to be in a movie like this.

“Archenemy” is a fine enough movie and could be a welcome diversion on a streaming service but to actually buy and own this movie seems like a step too far, it really adds nothing to the genre. In saying that there is enough here to see a filmmaker like Adam Egypt Mortimer directing something very special in the future with the right tools and a much better story.

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