I know dark and serious superhero movies have been “in” since Christopher Nolan perfected the genre with The Dark Knight and Deadpool proved heroes can be a lil’ naughty, but Adam Randall’s Netflix joint iBoy should be the last one of these clones for a while.
When an average teenager (Tom played by Son of Rambow’s Bill Milner) gets smartphone shrapnel lodged in his head after getting shot while placing an emergency call, he obtains special powers that allow him exclusive access into anyone’s phones. Tom may sound like more of a peeper than a superhero, but as he embraces his new abilities and uses them to get revenge on neighbourhood villains, Tom (aka. iBoy, his IM alter-ego) rides the line between being a guardian angel and an unstoppable anti-hero.
Sounds interesting, but director Adam Randall is unable to make the premise his own vehicle. iBoy starts off harmlessly with pleasant chemistry between Milner and Game of Thrones’ Maisie Williams, along with goofy antics from Tom as he experiments within his bounds. However, when the playfulness is underway, the clashing plot moves in which involves heavier aspects of crime and violence.
iBoy could’ve been cool escapism, but the film’s unnecessary adult themes devalue the movie into typical fare that cashes-in on a current trend. The film’s shameless adaptation of the visual aesthetics in 2011’s Drive – including copying the colour scheme and Nicolas Winding Refn’s stylistic lighting – worsens the film’s quest for identity. This is more like Kick-Ass without any of the humour, excitement, or irony.
I also didn’t buy Bill Milner’s transformation from a frumpy nice guy to London’s ultimate bad ass. Milner succeeds at being a friendly guy, but without a gradual shift for his character, the actor always appears as if he’s posing against slapdash special effects that appear to be doing the same.
A film can still be fun despite far-fetched elements. iBoy could’ve been an example of that if it had courage to do something new.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie