Woody Harrelson's "Defendor" is a legend in his own mind.

Woody Harrelson’s “Defendor” is a legend in his own mind — a social misfit turned wannabe crime-fighter whose delusional superheroics are more pathetic than inspirational. Similar to 2006 Michael Rapaport starrer “Special” in concept, seriocomic tone and the showcasing of an oft-underappreciated lead thesp, this debut feature by writer-helmer Peter Stebbings likewise seems destined for eyeblink theatrical play followed by friendlier ancillary berths.

Thanks mostly to (sole) loyal friend Paul (Michael Kelly), Arthur (Harrelson) is gainfully employed by his nameless city’s Dept. of Public Works. But he can barely bother with that, given the importance of his “real” work as nocturnal “defendor” of Right — one decked out in shoe-polish eye mask, grandpa’s WWI duds, and a duct-taped chest logo. His weapons include jars of wasps and marbles to be rolled under miscreants’ feet; cops and criminals alike are unamused. He gains an ally of sorts in sometime prostitute/crack addict Kat (Kat Dennings), who points him in the dangerous direction of a ruthless Serbian mobster. Harrelson shines, particularly in framing scenes with Sandra Oh as a tactful court psychiatrist. Modest but likable effort is packaged in a straightforward style.




A Darius Films production in association with Buck Films. (International sales: Cinectic Media, New York.) Produced by Nicholas D. Tabarrok. Executive producers, Sean Buckley, Tim Brown, Mark Slone, Tim Merkel, John Kozman. Directed, written by Peter Stebbings.


Camera (color, Panavision widescreen), David Greene; editor, Geoff Ashenhurst; music, John Rowley; production designer, Oleg Savytski. Reviewed at Toronto Film Festival (Special Presentations), Sept. 13, 2009. Running time: 101 MIN.


Woody Harrelson, Elias Koteas, Michael Kelly, Kat Dennings, Lisa Ray, Sandra Oh.

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