Bounty Killer (2013) ***1/2
Dir. Henry Saine
Starring: Matthew Marsden, Christian Pitre,
Barak Hardley, Kristanna Loken, Eve, Gary Busey, Beverly D’Angelo, Alexa Vega
Review By Greg Klymkiw
What's sexier than a post-apocalyptic babe adorned in a painted-on jumpsuit that shows off a pair of succulent bobbling melons with a Grand Canyon cleavage?
The answer is simple, dummy - a post-apocalyptic babe who smokes cigarillos, dispatches her quarry with Olympic-quality ass-kicking and in most scenes, grips a nice variety of deadly, smoking, phallically symbolic armament - whilst adorned in a painted-on jumpsuit that shows off a pair of succulent bobbling melons with a Grand Canyon cleavage.
Okay, this isn't Shakespeare, but we are served up a nicely directed Mad Max rip-off (call it Mad Maxine, if you must) - a movie overflowing with high kicking, boob-a-licious babes (and, for the ladies and loafer-light gents in the audience, hunks) who, at every turn, dispatch their victims with sex-drenched and/or macho aplomb.
The plot, such as it is, takes place in a world gone to utter seed after the "corporate wars" wherein governments have been completely and utterly usurped by corporate rulers (as if they haven't been already, I guess).
With the assistance of a mysterious "Council of Nine", an army of bounty hunters are secured to target corporate pigs for assassination, becoming, of course, the new heroes of the "people".
The screenplay which, inexplicably required THREE writers to adapt a graphic novel by Jason Dodson and helmer/co-writer Saine, focuses upon the laconic, tough-as-nails Drifter (Matthew Marsden) and his ex-squeeze and former pupil Mary Death (Christian Pitre) who band together when our hero finds himself on an extermination list.
So now, in addition to dispatching their bounty, the quipping couple are in non-stop warfare with every Tom, Dick, Harry and, uh, deadly babes to boot in order to get to the bottom of a whole new level of conspiracy.
That's pretty much it, but the "plot" is a fine excuse to cram in as much carnage as possible and believe me when I say that the delectable globs of CGI blood splatter gloriously in one tremendously staged violent set piece after another.
Where Bounty Killer rules - aside from the physical attributes of its stars - is the truly first-rate car chases, fight and gunplay choreography - beautifully staged, nicely shot, replete with careful, old-style adherence to spatial awareness and a goofy, near-Looney-Tunes-nutty sense of anarchic humour.
The colour palate feels decidedly late 70s and early 80s, the sound a weirdly disconnected and hollow entity unto itself and a terrific score by Greg Edmonson that brashly drives the action, but also manages to recall the work of the late, great Aussie composer Brian May (Mad Max, The Road Warrior, Patrick, Road Games) which in and of itself was like some perversely dissonant homage to Bernard Herrmann.
The special effects are delightfully imaginative and frankly, an all-over-the-place grab bag. If anything, they have a consistently low-tech quality that allows for an almost retro feel to the proceedings which, is a superbly imaginative nod to cinema's days-gone-by and reminds us - constantly and marvellously - that we are always indeed watching a movie, plunged happily into a world that we know can ONLY exist on a big screen.
It's too bad that the film seems destined for a life almost solely on home entertainment because in spite of its obvious no-budget, the movie manages to deliver far more joy and genre know-how than most of Hollywood's big budget action fare. Critics and audiences rave about the likes of Christopher Nolan, J.J. Abrams and Sam Mendes, but seem to ignore the simple fact that they (and so many others of their ilk) CANNOT DIRECT ACTION. They're sloppy dunderheads, but Saine's camera placement, movement and compositions continually puts his mega-budget colleagues (with no genuine visual talent) to shame.
In another world, one I had the pleasure to experience for real, Bounty Killer would have been a huge staple in the halcyon days of drive-ins and grind houses. I miss those days and I especially pity movie lovers who never experienced them in their glory.
The real star here, though, aside from the crazed appearances of Oscar Nominee Gary "I'll Do Anything For A Paycheque" Busey and rap star Eve (not to mention wonderful turns from Bev D’Angelo, Kristanna Loken and Alexa Vega) is the stunning Christian Pitre. The camera doesn't just love her, it FUCKS her every which way and she fucks the camera back in a dominant, take-charge manner. The woman is not only drop-dead gorgeous, but she commands the screen with the sort of power that suggests she's got "star" written all over her.
Bounty Killer might have very little going on upstairs, but that never gets in the way of its sheer audacious sense of fun. If you love babes, hunks and carnage with dollops of humour along the way, you'll find plenty to admire here. Not only did I have a terrific time, but my 12-year-old daughter kept squealing with delight all the way through the picture. "I LOVE this movie," she exclaimed over and over again.
There's also a special prop that elicits huge laughs as a Deity. I won't ruin it for most of you, but I'll drop this hint for a few aficionados: the prop is something much preferred by the legendary screen character Frank Booth to the likes of Heineken. Oh and for subsequent instalments of Bounty Killer, I DEMAND mega-lesbo action and way more nudity (female and male), please.
"Bounty Killer" is on display at the wonderful Toronto After Dark Film Festival 2013 (TADFF). For more info on tickets and showtimes, visit the website HERE.