Friday, May 20, 2016

Bounty Killer

Director and co-writer Henry Saine is certainly up on his Robert Rodriguez movies. BOUNTY KILLER cribs from Rodriguez’s arch action pictures, primarily SIN CITY, GRINDHOUSE, and the MACHETE series, and melds a smidgen of social commentary into its futuristic setting. Saine and co-writers Jason Dodson and Colin Ebeling exhibit no shortage of enthusiasm, however, gleefully splashing one-liners, outrageous story turns, and gallons of CGI gore across the screen, whether they make sense or not.

In the not-too-distant future, America is a wasteland caused by big business. What government is left puts out a bounty on white collar criminals — dead or dead. The hunters who kill them are celebrities with colorful monikers like Mary Death (Christian Pitre) and Drifter (ATLAS SHRUGGED: PART 1’s Matthew Marsden). Okay, not that colorful. Trouble ensues when Drifter becomes a target for bounty killers, forcing him, Mary (his former protege and lover), and his fat “gun caddy” Jack (Bruce Vilanch lookalike Barak Hardley) to make his case to the council that runs the government — if he doesn’t get killed first.

Before BOUNTY KILLER was a three-week feature that received a brief theatrical release, it was a short film (also starring Pitre and Hardley), an animated short, and a comic book, all written by Dodson. Considering its derivative nature, the feature often feels original, basically because it’s genuinely witty and clever in spots (who woulda thought a sixer of PBR could be such valuable currency?). The action sequences are quite good when not marred by amateurish CGI and tedious gore.

As for the cast, Marsden is a pretty boy cipher. Pitre not only looks like a stripper, but she acts as well as one too. A pity, because more dynamic stars could have made BOUNTY KILLER an independent exploitation classic. Gary Busey (LETHAL WEAPON) is Buseyesque as a corporate assassin, Eve (BARBERSHOP) is a menacing gypsy in skull facepaint, Beverly D’Angelo (NATIONAL LAMPOON’S VACATION) is a weary barmaid at the Thirsty Beaver (!), and Kristanna Loken (TERMINATOR 3) is the baddie behind it all. An early sequence told through charmingly retro animation proves the perfect vehicle for explaining the film’s setting and backstory, and it’s difficult to dislike anything that features guys wearing jet packs.

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