- Eddie Harrison
- 3 July 2017
Stephen Dorff is amongst the redeeming features in Nick Love's superhero-themed latest
Writer-director Nick Love is best known for a series of awful British thrillers. With Danny Dyer as his muse, Love's films include The Football Factory, The Business and Outlaw, crude fodder suited to supermarket bargain bins. His 2012 reboot of The Sweeney was probably his best work to date, and superhero story American Hero – released in the US in 2015 – features a more whimsical tone than Love's UK canon might suggest.
Stephen Dorff stars as Melvin, a boozed-up, drugged-up loser who stumbles from one rotting couch to another as he wanders the mean streets of New Orleans. Desiring nothing more than a reconciliation with his estranged son, Melvin is encouraged by his friend Lucille (Eddie Griffin) to get his act together. Although Melvin is loathe to admit it, he has superpowers, and lacks only the purpose and resolve to use his abilities as anything more than a parlour trick.
American Hero has a number of points of interest, not least Dorff, who looked set for a career comeback in 2010 when Sofia Coppola cast him in Somewhere but who subsequently went off the radar again. Much like his self-referential performance in that film, Dorff has been encouraged by Love to let it all hang out here; scene after seemingly authentic scene features Melvin drinking, partying, goofing off, getting high and passing out – deliberately blurring the relationship between character and actor.
To be fair, Love does manage to conjure a downbeat mood. But there's a reason that his latest has been sitting on a distributor's shelf for 18-months, and it's because it's barely a film at all. The metaphor of superpowers equalling sober potential is good, but the careless development would barely fill a ten-minute short, making American Hero something of a slog.
Limited release from Tue 4 Jul.