A dramatic journey through the dreck we all know and love
Written By Zak Attack
Why Did I Watch This?
Bounty Killer was actually recommended to me by Action A Go Go contributor and all-around cool dude,Troy Jeffrey-Allen. I’ve never heard of it and knew nothing about it going in… which is (in my humble opinion) the best way to watch a movie. I highly recommend trying that sometime. No trailers, no synopses… just a genre and a general idea.
How Did I Watch It?
Alone on an iPad, with a couple bourbon and cokes to go along.
What Did I Watch?
Despite the fact that the Quentin Tarantino/Robert Rodriguez experiment wasn’t exactly successful, movie after movie has attempted to cash-in on the idea of modern day, tongue-in-cheek “grindhouse” cinema. In that vein, Bounty Killer is an unapologetically schlocky action film which features a post-apocalyptic world destroyed by corporate greed. In this dystopian wasteland, the celebrities/athletes/politicians are instead people called “bounty killers” who take contracts out on capitalist fat-cats whose significant crimes may have helped cause the economic Apocalypse.
Mary Death (played by Christian Pitre in her sexy, Barbarella-inspired costume) and Drifter (Matthew Marsden) are romantic rivals who both compete and work together as two of the most popular killers around. Unfortunately, they are found at odds when Drifter reveals a shady past that causes them to be doggedly pursued by a ruthless businesswoman (played by Kristanna Loken) and her gang.
Outside of the b-movie pedigree, Bounty Killer‘s major purpose is a shameless, anti-corporation satirical slant buoyed by strong action and playful destructiveness throughout. Lotsa guns, a “Dia de los Muertos” inspired gang of gypsies (headed up by rapper Eve), and frenetic action coat the barely-veiled political agenda in a strong layer of pure entertainment. The easiest analogues to this film are Robert Rodriguez’s over-the-top Machete and Neil Marshall’s heavily referential Doomsday with a sprinkle of Occupy Wall Street rhetoric.
Unlike the similarly anti-establishment Death Race 2000, Bounty Killer plays its wild concept and b-movie wackiness more or less completely straight. While it’s obvious the audience is there for the blood, explosions, and too-cool-for-school gunplay the movie refuses to hold the viewer’s hand or straight-up wink at them. It’s a refreshing alternative to the hilarious, Troma-inspired Hobo with a Shotgun or the ironic detachment of the Crank films. The balance is difficult (especially for the actors), but everyone involved in this film manages to convey a knowing impishness while avoiding treating the material with frivolity or disdain.
While not to the level of some horror movies or over-the-top Japanese action flicks, you’d be hard-pressed to discuss Bounty Killer without focusing on the substantial violence and gore. While a good portion of this is CGI (often a no-no here at AAGG), the action scenes are filmed energetically and inventively. The combination of perpetually flowing viscera, surprisingly solid visual effects, and an overall lively tone helps create a wonderfully dark, cartoonish world where anything can happen.
While I mentioned that one of the highpoints was Bounty Killer‘s willingness to play its ridiculousness straight, there’s also a big element of the experience that begs for that joke-y treatment. Despite the novel approach of treating the film seriously on the surface, without that heavily irreverent spirit it becomes a bit harder to “get into” the film outright. The movie just assumes it is fun enough to draw in the viewer instead of doing the work to grab one’s attention.
For example, while Drifter’s comic relief sidekick Jack knows the least about the world of bounty killers, he works in no way as an audience surrogate. The viewer is still thrown into a new world with new character relationships and no outlet to remark upon it.To that point, world-building is usually a great way to get people invested in a futuristic setting… but Bounty Killer isn’t concerned with that. As a result, it’s not until an impressive Mad Max-like chase scene almost halfway into the film that I realized how enjoyable the movie actually was.
A subtle, but dangerous sin in the movie: Gary Busey is grossly underused. As a second-in-command villain, there was strong potential for the wild-eyed actor to ruffle some feathers or turn in a memorable performance. However, he simply glowers in a couples scenes which don’t quite warrant such an infamous face in the non-role.
Was It Worth Watching?
I didn’t expect Action A Go Go’s Managing Editor (and fellow contributor) to steer me wrong and he didn’t. Every spot where the movie fails to be typically “good” is made up for by the sheer enthusiasm and weirdness that went into making it. It might not land on any one’s top 10, but “worth watching” is more than just faint praise. It’s a legitimate endorsement.
So yeah… watch it.
Zak has been an avid movie fan since his mom made him cover his eyes before the “icicle stabbing” when they rented Die Hard 2 in 2nd grade. As a consolation, in 6th grade he got straight A’s so she gave him the entire Die Hard trilogy on VHS. The rest is history.
All images courtesy of Kickstart Productions