Owen Wilson goes from starring in Loki to suiting up as a superhero in his own right in Secret Headquarters, an action-packed new family film coming to Paramount+ later this week. Here’s our verdict…
Secret Headquarters was originally set to be released in theaters before it was moved to Paramount+, where it will debut this Friday, August 12. However, no matter what size screen you watch this movie on, we’re sure the amount of fun you have will remain the same. Owen Wilson plays a superhero called The Guard (think of him as a cosmic Iron Man, of sorts), but the focus is primarily on his son, Charlie (Walker Scobell), and his friends when they discover his father’s base of operations beneath his home. When villains attack, they must team up to defend the headquarters and save the world, and what follows is a Spy Kids-style adventure that’s big on laughs and action.
Scobell, who recently starred alongside Ryan Reynolds and Mark Ruffalo in The Adam Project, is proving himself a star in the making and again impresses with his work in this movie. While his friends just want to have fun with their newfound discovery, Charlie is also having to deal with the fact his father has spent years neglecting him, and watching him come to terms with why that is (being a superhero takes up a lot of your spare time) highlights what a great presence Scobell has on screen. Unfortunately, Wilson isn’t in the movie anywhere near enough, a missed opportunity when he appears to be having a great deal of fun as this costumed crimefighter. The reason for The Guard being sidelined makes sense as the focus is on the kids, but it ends up feeling like the actor, who is front and center in Secret Headquarters‘ marketing campaign, is making little more than an extended cameo. Still, we can’t find fault with what we do get from the Loki star and he’s both as enjoyable to watch as ever and very, very funny.
Wilson basically bookends the movie, but that gives Michael Peña the chance to shine and he hams it up to great effect as the movie’s main villain, Argon. The character is really nothing we haven’t seen before (a power-hungry CEO who hopes to use a great power for his own selfish means), but there are some original ideas to be found here, including what happens when Argon himself suits up and realizes it’s not as easy as it looks.
Filmmakers Henry Joost & Rel Schulman once again look to put a fresh spin on superpowers after previously helming Netflix’s Project Power, and do a good job of that for the most part. The Guard is basically Iron Man, right down to how Wilson’s face is displayed in his HUD while taking flight, inadvertently pushing Secret Headquarters into parody territory at times. The cosmic mythology surrounding those powers is only explored on a surface level, and that results in a fairly generic hero. However, the most fun to be had here isn’t with the costumed action, but with the sense of childhood wonder the directors manage to capture once those kids stumble into the find of a lifetime. As they try out The Guard’s gadgets and make some of their own, it’s hard not to get caught up in the joy of what they’re experiencing.
Secret Headquarters doesn’t necessarily break the mould, but kids should love the movie and it’s definitely a highly enjoyable summer popcorn flick. Big laughs, a lot of heart, and a whole heap of action add up to make this one of the summer’s better family films, and while superhero fans might not be blown away by what’s on offer, they should still be able to enjoy what MCU vets Owens and Peña bring to the table.
Spy Kids meets superheroes, Secret Headquarters is light on new ideas, but successfully captures a sense of childhood wonder and subsequently proves itself a must-see family film on Paramount+ this summer.