Written and directed by Adam Egypt Mortimer, Archenemy is the dark action-adventure movie that follows Hamster (Skylan Brooks), a young man looking to tell the real stories of his neighborhood through journalism. He lives with his older sister, who supports them by doing tasks for the local drug kingpin. Hamster begins writing about a local homeless man (Joe Manganiello) who is known as schizophrenic. His name is Max Fist, and he asserts that he is not of this world but a superbeing from another dimension who fell through time and space into our reality. Here, he has no powers and is not adapting to our atmosphere well. Archenemy is an adventure unlike any other.
The humor.The director, Adam Egypt Mortimer wrote and directed all three of his feature films. Some Kind of Hate (2015), Daniel Isn’t Real (2019), and now Archenemy (2020) are all unconventional dark stories that center around atypical characters. However, Adam Egypt Mortimer’s films do not forget to entertain. Humor is still a big part of Archenemy. One of the major characters is the drug kingpin. You might have a similar reaction to him as I did. I saw him and said "Wait... Dennis?!” Yes. Dennis (Glenn Howerton) from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia is in this movie. Glenn Howerton has fun with the role, and his slightly over the top portrayal adds a comedic tone to the scenes he's in. Don't be fooled though, Glenn Howerton also manages to be serious and threatening as a kingpin when the scene calls for it. Max Fists’ situation on Earth is often handled with a light-heartedness as well. For example, alcohol in our dimension does not have the same impact on his body, and so he is constantly drinking alcohol like it’s water, and methamphetamines also affect him differently.
The protagonist problem.The film’s protagonist seems to be Hamster but both his sister, Indigo (Zolee Griggs), and Max Fist display more qualities of a leading character. At first, Hamster appears as the underdog who will come up but he never really does. His older sister is very much a driver of her own story. Despite being so young, she deals with a major drug kingpin to provide for her and her brother, constantly showing that she is unafraid. I would have preferred the film to be about her because she was insanely cool. Max Fist is another obvious contender for the main character because he is a superhuman from a different world, yet it seems Hamster took up more screen time. Hamster, paling in comparison to his two supporting leads, falls flat as a character. I think part of the reason I favor Indigo as a better suited main character is because of the absolute show the actor managed to give. The stand-out performance of this film is Zolee Griggs as Indigo. She was so lovable as the stylish older sister who can take on any challenge. She was a scene-stealer.
Visual choices.There were a lot of interesting visual choices made in this film. In terms of lighting, unnatural, bright red lights were often used to further dress up scenes. I may be biased though because I just love the use of red lights, in general. They successfully added color and atmosphere to a lot of shots. Of course, the most noticeable visual choice was the switching back and forth between animated sequences and live-action ones. At times, the two overlapped. It gave the film a comic-book feel and was well integrated into the story. It helped differentiate between the two dimensions and added some flair to the cinematography. The animation, which you can preview by looking at the film poster, has an unmistakable specific look to it.
Archenemy is a new take on the trend of superhero films that features a wonderful cast.