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dir Henry Saine
scr Jason Dodson, Henry Saine, Colin Ebeling
prd Jason Netter, Colin Ebeling, Henry Saine
with Matthew Marsden, Christian Pitre, Barak Hardley, Kristanna Loken, Abraham Benrubi, Eve Jeffers, Gary Busey, Beverly D'Angelo, Kevin McNally, Alexa Vega, Jeff Meacham, Will Collyer
release US 6.Sep.13, UK 10.Jan.14
Straight shooters: Marsden and Pitre
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E
Inventive and utterly bonkers, this action romp's knowing B-movie humour makes it a lot more enjoyable than it should be. There's not much to the plot, and everything on-screen is thoroughly cheesy. But it's also rather good fun.
After the Corporate Wars destroyed the world, white collar criminals have death warrants on their heads, turning bounty killers into rock stars. But one of them, Drifter (Marsden), is getting too close to a big secret, and now has a bounty on his head. So he and his new gun caddy Jack (Hardley) head across the West to the Council to clear his name, chased by glamorous killer Mary Death (Pitre). Pursuing them all is the ruthless Van Sterling (Busey), henchman for a sinister puppet-master (Loken) who has a nefarious master plan.
Based on a graphic novel, the movie uses comic-book animation, hilariously lurid design and exaggerated grisliness to make up for the cut-rate effects and incoherent action. There's also a generous dose of snappy, rude humour and trashy melodramatics. Of course Drifter has a history with Mary, because this lets Marsden and Pitre generate plenty of innuendo as they try to kill each other. Thankfully, the inexpressive Marsden has some decent screen presence, while Pitre shows some promise in her first role.
The other actors have more limited characters, each providing a jokey presence just when needed most. Hardley and Benrubi have the standard comic-relief sidekick and snappy expert roles, respectively. Jeffers is rather hilariously over-the-top as a gypsy queen channelling Tina Turner from Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. And a parade of D-list cameos adds to the movie's nutty tone, stirring in characters who have little to do with the story but expand the chaos considerably.
Meanwhile, the backlash against corporate greed adds just a whiff of serious subtext, although it never becomes anything more than that. In the end, this is a mindless bit of Robert Rodriguez-style wackiness (and it's a lot more entertaining than Machete Kills), gleefully mashing up genres like Westerns, post-apocalyptic thrillers and trashy action movies. If it was less choppy and clumsy, it might even deserve a cult following.
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© 2013 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall
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