Secret Headquarters

  • 03 Sep - 09 Sep, 2022
  • Mag The Weekly
  • Reviews

In The Adam Project, a disposable Netflix feature probably watched by a squillion people earlier this year despite a plot so contorted it was basically a sleep aid, young actor Walker Scobell played a kid bruised by the inattention of a workaholic dad who then died, compounding the hurt. Scobell again plays a disgruntled son given a sci-fi shakeup in another empty-calorie adventure, Secret Headquarters, though it’s perhaps a small mercy this time that instead of Ryan Reynolds cracking wise we get the mellower Owen Wilson alternative.

Secret Headquarters starts with a prologue in which Wilson’s devoted dad Jack Kincaid interrupts a camping trip with his wife Lily (Jessie Mueller) and four-year-old son Charlie (Louie Moss) to hop in his battered VW van and rush to the scene of an aerial collision that crashes down deep in the woods of Wherever, USA.

Still stunned from the impact, Air Force Captain Sean Irons (Jesse Williams) leads Jack to the crash site, where the hatch of an alien spacecraft opens, disgorging a glowing orb later identified as “The Source,” which conveniently speaks like any standard American computerised female voice assistant. Hovering in front of each man’s face, the Source first rejects beat-up Irons as a host before settling on Jack, confirming “Guardian accepted.” Ten years later, 14-year-old Charlie (Scobell) is morosely accustomed to his now absentee dad missing birthdays and most other occasions. But he finds distraction as a fanatical follower of a mystery figure known as The Guard, who pops up frequently in news reports, thwarting disasters all over the world. Ansel Argon (Michael Peña), the smarmy head of a defense corporation whose weapons sales are down because of the Guard’s heroics, is not a fan. Argon has put Irons on his payroll in an attempt to identify the Guard and access his power source. With less pedestrian writing, there might have been some genuine uplift in the outcome of a family reinforcing its bonds while taking on future missions as a unified team. But Secret Headquarters is mostly just meh. Even when they’re showing a willingness to be kid-killers, Argon and his goons are too bland to be much of a menace, and the rote fights between Jack and Argon, both in Tron-type hardware suits, don’t pack much excitement.