A hero from another dimension lives as a homeless man who drinks too much on the streets of Los Angeles. A wannabe influencer finds him and decides to tell his story by shadowing him no matter how dangerous it gets.
Written by Adam Egypt Mortimer and Luke Passmore with Mortimer directing as well, Archenemy is both a commentary on society and a fantasy adventure movie in its own way. It approaches difficult subject such as homelessness, alcoholism, and mental health as well as lighter ones such as social media and superheroes. What it does differently from most other films is mix all of this in a way where none of the themes are relegated to being a background and everything included has a point and some importance. The subjects are not all easy and that’s what gives this film some weight. It’s not what people would expect from what looks like a superhero film from the outside, it’s much more. It’s a story with characters that should appeal to both superhero fans and non-fans.
In the part of the here, Max Fist (not to be mistaken with the soon to be released Max Cloud, a videogame hero), is Joe Manganiello who gives a good performance as a man who is more than mere mortal, yet is afflicted by self-doubt, alcoholism, and being a bit lost to himself. There is a lot in there for him to work with and he does very well with it, giving his character dimension and a certain brooding quality that makes him more than just a drunk or a random homeless person. He shows that a lot of homeless people are much more than meets the eye and that they all have a story to be dug into. Of course, some of this is from the writing and directing, but his performance really sells it here. Playing the young man who finds him is played by Skylan Brooks who gives a good counterpart to Manganiello’s performance. His work is good here and shows that he can hold his own next to someone like Manganiello while giving something extra to the story. The rest of the cast is good, but these two make the film as they have the most screen time and they show that they are the right choices for their parts.
The film has something that sets it apart from the recent slew of superhero films, besides the themes, in its visuals. The film mixed art, animation, and other elements to create a dynamic visual style that is part of the story. It works here in a way that adds interest and does what a few other films trying to mix visual styles this way in that it works and doesn’t jar the viewer right out of the story.
Archenemy is an interesting watch and addition to the superhero film world. It’s also one that shares some aspects with many other films, but the way they are connected here with the story and the characters makes it for a good watch. Of course, fans of Manganiello will want to see this one as it’s one of his best performances to date and shows why he is often underrated.