The low-budget effort’s premise takes a page from Saw: Tired of “asshole goody-two-shoes getting in the way,” the career criminal who calls himself Rickshaw (James Remar, TV’s Dexter) wants his archenemies — this story’s superheroes — to play a game. He has kidnapped 100 innocent civilians, rigged them to explosive devices and scattered them across town; our fantastic foursome has to adhere to his rules of reaching destinations in the nick of time and fighting opponents of his choosing before deactivating the bombs, or … well, kablooey.
Split into two teams, Charge (writer/director Jason Trost), Cutthroat (Lucas Till, X-Men: First Class), Shadow (Sophie Merkley) and The Wall (Lee Valmassy) must set aside their dysfunction to save the day — er, night. The villains they face include the cage-fighting Sledgesaw (Nick Principe, ChromeSkull of the Laid to Rest slasher series) and the maniacal Manpower (Sean Whalen, Rob Zombie’s Halloween II), an Uncle Sam figure with a flamethrower.
As an action thriller, All Superheroes Must Die packs a punch, if only a mild one. But as a drama, it fails. Trost treats the material even more earnestly than he did with 2011’s Dance Dance Revolution-esque gang war of The FP. The cast hasn’t the knack to pull off the black-and-white flashbacks demonstrating their interpersonal relationships outside of the cowls and capes. Or perhaps the fault lay with leaden lines like, “Pain is just a suggestion.”
I vote both. When it’s all said and done — quickly, as the film runs a mere 78 minutes — viewers are left with a heavily flawed thriller with a few more ticks in the plus column than the minus one. Still, it’s amazing Trost was able to get this much out of $20,000. Remar’s joyous performance alone is worth that figure several times over. —Rod Lott