Edinburgh International Film Festival 2016 – American Hero (2015)

American Hero follows the story of Melvin Hesper (Stephen Dorff), a down on his luck father who just wants to see his kid but parties, drugs and women always seem to spoil his true intentions. Backing up Melvin is his best buddy Lucille, he’s wheelchair bound, but his lack of mobility is made up for his razor sharp motormouth! Anything else? Well, Mel has a talent, the power of telekinesis, which he currently uses as a party trick to pick up chicks and screw over petty thieves.

But, after a major wake up call, Melvin decides it’s time to clean up their act and get his live back on track!

Well American Hero blew me away! From Football Factory writer and director Nick Love – I was thoroughly surprised by it. I went in blind, I had only read the blurb from the festival website and I left the rest for the screening. The story, the acting, effects and pacing – hell, it was all spot on honestly.

The casting and acting was perfect, Stephen Dorff (Blade) was giving me those Jack Nicholson/Jack Torrance crazy intense vibes, he’s special, totally underused. I love how beautifully tragic Melville is, he’s clearly a well read person, spooling off his knowledge on classic music, literature and banging out classical music on the piano, but this is diluted amongst his chaotic drug/party fuelled lifestyle. Once the parties are over, we’re given these shots of Melville running, just running with the look of fear on his face and the piano playing underneath it, reminiscing on the memories on his son – it’s heartbreaking.

Eddie Griffin (Undercover Brother), How good is he? That gravelly voice and whipping his ass about in a wheelchair and his no nonsense attitude – he was the perfectly. Together we’re given excellent, relaxed chemistry and where one cannot function without the other. Set in a post-hurricane Katrina, New Orleans, the supporting actors appear so authentic I have to imagine that those family’s are the residence that were left worst off after the hurricane.

The story is straight forward and it’s got a heart to it, the telekinetic spin on the story was inspired and the first 10 minutes the movie plays without acknowledging his powers or any kind of origin story. The only times I feel it doubts itself is when we’re given the impression that film is a semi-documentary, there’s plenty of times where they acknowledge the camera; Melville & Lucille talking to the folk off camera, throwing shit toward the camera and then I felt it was pretty much forgotten about in the second half as the story goes up a gear. This is my only fault with the film and it’s a very small quibble compared to everything I enjoyed about this film.

In 2016, the year where we’re given multi-million dollar superhero blockbusters almost monthly, American Hero can easily fall in amongst the X-Men and the Suicide Squads, but I implore you all to check this one out.


[Reviewed originally as part of 70th Edinburgh International Film Festival]