Secret Headquarters Review

Secret Headquarters is the latest film in an ever-growing gluttony of superhero films. Every major studio, including Paramount, who had the MCU under their umbrella before selling them off to Disney, is trying to get into the superhero game and the streaming wars on top of that. They need material for their service that doesn’t have Star Trek in front of it. The superhero genre could have done without their effort, though, because it’s not that good.

Owen Wilson plays a man who is inadvertently given the powers of a God and uses them to go around saving lives as the planet’s one true savior, the Guard. However, he never tells his son about his little secret. On a father-son weekend, Charlie Kincaid (Walker Scobell, The Adam Project) — the spitting image of Owen Wilson, perfect casting — is left behind when his father gets an urgent message that he has to go to a conference. He says he’ll be right back, though. So in perfect planning, the kid invites his friends over, and they discover pop’s secret lair.

Just like what kids would do, they have fun exploring the lair and trying things out. Some are good experiences with dad’s gadgets, and some they should leave alone. Unbeknownst to them, they set off a tracker and the head of an evil maniacal organization who has been tracking the Guard’s every movement but didn’t know where his lair was until now, the leader of which is played by Michael Peña. They come to get all of the Guard’s secrets and a powerful orb that is the main source of his power.

The kids have to stand up to Peña’s men but aren’t much of a match for them. Wilson wasn’t around much in this film, and his father-son stuff didn’t come until the third act when he had to help rescue his son and his friends from Peña. This story is right out of superhero 101. The father has to help save the day when a relative/family member gets into trouble. The problem is this film is so contrived, and you could see all this story coming from a mile away. 

I can see the attraction of the time for Wilson, but Peña is terrible as the villain. I don’t know why besides a paycheck he would have taken this one-note character with no redeeming qualities. Peña has done some good stuff in the past, namely in superhero films, including the Ant-Man franchise. However, his performance in this might be the worst superhero villain I’ve ever seen. This goes beyond a one-note character. It’s just bad acting, and the script plays into that acting, so it’s a double whammy for Peña. He needs to start looking for better projects than this if he wants his career to keep going.

Wilson gives his everything in this role, but it’s not his fault the script is awful from Christopher T. Yost, Josh Keonigsberg, and Henry Joost. They have an underlying story of this father-son relationship, but it doesn’t blossom into anything. It’s bogged down by all the superhero stuff and CGI visual effects that get in the way of the real story. Add on top of that a comedic stick that Peña and others are embracing. This film should have been more serious, but instead, it went the childish route which turned me off completely.

Secret Headquarters had a good premise that in the right hands — maybe Chris Columbus, for example — could have had a worthwhile father-son story. Instead, it gets sidetracked by a comedy routine by Peña (nobody’s laughing), visual effects spectacle, and a subpar script and direction. Paramount may have done the right thing by dropping this pile of trash on their streaming service. I don’t think many people would have seen it otherwise. This film gives a bad name to the superhero genre.

2 stars

Dan Skip Allen

Sean Boelman Foinder/EIC disappointment media

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