Archenemy (2021) Review
Updated: Oct 18, 2021
INDIE director Adam Egypt Mortimer burst onto the scene with 2019's Daniel Isn't Real; a frightful and dramatic analysis of a broken man's imagination. Nearly one year later, Mortimer returns with Archenemy; a superhero film blended with his trademark dissection of the mentally-unstable.
Max Fist (Joe Manganiello), a disgruntled and homeless alcoholic, claims to be a superhero who fell through space and time onto Earth. However, no one believes his other-worldly stories besides an ambitious teenager named Hamster (Skylan Brooks).
Hamster lives with his equally-ambitious sister Indigo (Zolee Griggs), who has gotten herself embroiled in a local drug chain run by The Manager (Glenn Howerton). As Hamster and Indigo's recent events begin to clash with one another, the siblings, alongside Max Fist, must come together to protect themselves from The Manager's forces and Fist's deep-rooted mental instability.
Archenemy sets up an interesting premise, clearly setting the stage for Max Fist's previous and current lives to clash. However, while the film does establish the parallel world, its continued mention throughout feels incredibly loose and disconnected from an already complicated and compact narrative which is only given 90 minutes of time to breath.
All actors and actresses deliver passable performances with what they are given, with Glenn Howerton bringing his iconic It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia personality to his crime boss character, immediately establishing his facetious and remorseless ways towards the film's best written character - Indigo.
Archenemy feels incredibly miscast, exuding stenches of missed opportunities as Griggs' Indigo provided a humanising character into a film which, ironically, presented itself as a grounded-in-reality superhero feature. Her struggles to maintain a positive connection with her brother are more than relatable as she continues to state obvious facts despite the film presenting her advice as being idiotic.
Mortimer's latest feature has glimmers of hope throughout, with Indigo and The Manager's story being engaging and entertaining, but in an ironic and disheartening twist, Archenemy falls apart when it focuses on its circuitous superhero elements.
If the film focused on Indigo, Hamster and The Manager, it could have been a simple and engaging crime drama about the struggles of society and its many ambiguous layers.