Bounty Killer (2013)

Despite
Despite the 2042 dateline on that poster, the film was originally set in 1997, inspired by a 70s grindhouse tagline.

“If the suit fits… waste it!”

Directed by Henry Saine
Starring Christian Pitre, Matthew Marsden, Kristanna Loken and Barak Hardley

After rampant corporations went to war with world’s governments in a drive for total deregulation, the shattered remnants of civilisation survive under the benevolent rule of the Council of Nine, who stand for hope, redemption, and the violent execution of white-collar criminals by flamboyant celebrity bounty killers.

Drifter (Marsden) and Mary Death (Pitre) are the best of their kind, and former lovers to boot, so when a bounty comes up for Drifter and the mysterious Second Sun corporation begins to make moves to redevelop the wasteland, the scene is set for an epic hunt. Accompanied by Drifter’s gun caddie, Jack (Hardley), and pursued by a band of lethal Gypsies, they set out for the Council stronghold to find answers.

What’s wrong with it?

Bounty Killer is a chips cheap pseudo-grindhouse Mad Max ripoff, full of CGI bloodsplatter and the occasional nasty practical effect.

The plot is more informed than developed.

It’s unclear why cash money is still a functional means of exchange in a world without a central banking system.

Even accepting that they are in no way supposed to be Romani, Gypsies is a loaded term that might have been better avoided.

What’s right with it?

Somehow, the characters manage to be likable, despite the massive violence that they perpetrate. Even Mary Death is rarely the sexualised psychopath that she threatens to be, perhaps because Pitre conveys a certain infectious joie de vivre in place of sadistic bloodlust, and because of a scene where she discovers the bodies of the murdered Council members and collapses, conveying that Mary also believed in what she was doing.

The cast contains no howlingly bad actors, and some decent cameos from old hacks like Gary Busey and Kevin McKidd (whose bounty broker, Daft Willie, has more than a touch of the Del Boy about him.)

The designated girl fight is as brutal as any other in film, and actually less sexualised than most of Mary’s action scenes.

How bad is it really?

It’s really not that bad at all. There’s an energy to it that suggests that all involved were having a blast, and some balls to the wall craziness to boot.

This is in fact a caravan being towed by two motorbikes, steered with reins. It's just a shame you can't see the array of vintage cars chasing them.
This is in fact a caravan being towed by two motorbikes, steered with reins. It’s just a shame you can’t see the array of vintage cars chasing them.

Best bit (if such there is)?

The caravan towed by motorbikes is awesome, but for sheer artistry the prize has to go to the climax of the film. Drifter has been shaved, dressed in a suit and tied to a chair by his ex-wife in a glass walled manager’s office in the heart of a cubicle farm. While she tries to talk him into rejoining the firm, the door to the main office blows in and Drifter’s friends charge in, gunning down the heavily armed corporate schills. The glass office is soundproof, however, so that the action plays out silently while classical music plays in the office.

This is followed by a protracted gunfight where Jack smoothly hands off reloads and replacement weapons to Drifter and Mary as they fight their way out of the office complex.

What’s up with…?

The film features a caravan, pulled by motorbikes, and steered with reins. Anything I put here is likely to be fairly redundant.

Ratings

Production values – It’s cheap, but it knows that it’s cheap, and blends in snippets of animation and stylised flashback to make a feature of it. 8
Dialogue and performances – The dialogue has a few gems – “I tried to love her, but she stabbed me in the spleen and left me for dead.” – but is mostly workmanlike. The actors are decent, and more importantly all committed. No-one is phoning it in. 7
Plot and execution – There’s not a lot of plot, and what there is has significant holes, but it’s not done badly for what it is. 13
Randomness – Motorbike stagecoach. ‘Gypsies’ in skull facepaint. Exploding heads. Post-corporate cash money. 15
Waste of potential – Well, I went into this expecting nothing and I got something. 3

Overall 46%

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