I love a good post-apocalypse. Obviously, there are drawbacks. Lawless wastelands full of raping and pillaging; radiation scorched skies; no antibiotics to treat previously curable infections; a lack of good, clean water, and decimated supplies of antiperspirant leading to outbreaks of B.O.; and poor sanitation meaning everyone has to poo in a hole in the desert.
But there are plus points too. Fuel never seems to run out, and hair grooming products and make up remain in plentiful supply. When you’re gunning across the shattered remains of Earth on a gas guzzling motorbike, the last thing you want is your carefully spiked hair getting messed up by the wind. And the dust and muck blasting the skull mask you’ve spent three hours carefully painting onto your face will always need a touch up.
Yep, when the world has ended, people don’t abandon their sense of style, embracing post-apocalyptic chic: ripped leather, gleaming knuckle dusters, thigh high boots, and long western duster coats splattered with just the right amount of dirt. Your average wasteland drifter knows that it’s not enough to survive. You have to look fucking cool whilst doing it.
The bounty killers and other miscreants in Bounty Killer are really no exception. Except for one difference. In Bounty Killer’s world there exists another type of person.
You see, this particular apocalypse has been brought about by corporate armies fighting it out for real. Imagine Coca-Cola getting annoyed with Pepsi. Instead of creating an advert where they say Coca-Cola tastes like honied milk teased from the plump breast of an ancient Greek goddess, and that Pepsi tastes like horse piss, they just send a squadron of planes across to Pepsi HQ and nuke the fuck out of it. Then imagine all the other corporations doing exactly the same thing to each other.
What’s left is a two tier post-apocalypse, with the wasteland drifters at the bottom, and the smart guys wearing suits sat at the top, on a big pile of money. Mmmmmm, wait a minute? Is this film an allegory for our current ever-widening gap between rich and poor? Well, I never! It is! Admittedly, it’s an allegory that’s as subtle as using a sledgehammer to crack a nut. But B-movies don’t do subtlety. Sometimes, that’s a good thing. Leave it to worthier movies to get the heart of an issue. Leave it to a B-movie to solve the problem by just blowing someone’s head off with a gun.
In other words, enter the bounty killers. The film follows two of them. Ex-soap star Matthew Marsden as “Drifter”, and Christian Pitre as “Mary Death”. Pitre is one of those women who looks like an impossibly beautiful fembot produced in a factory that makes impossibly beautiful fembots to the highest specification. Try and spot a hair that might be out of place, or a tooth that doesn’t shine with the power of twenty suns. Then come back at the end of the movie, defeated. Even when she’s drenched in blood, and oil, and blackened with soot from a burning car, the hair and the teeth still look great.
I guess what I’m saying is, in a roundabout way… she’s hot!
Her and Drifter have risen to a kind of stardom in the wasteland, executing corporate fat cats for cash, fame, and merchandise tie-ins. They’re employed by the Council of Nine, a sort of new government trying to restore some sort of balance. Without warning, a bounty is put on Drifter’s head. But that’s impossible. He’s not a corporate scam artist. Or is he? From there, the film is a trip across country to the offices of the Council of Nine, where Drifter hopes to confront them. Mary Death is along for the ride as well, often proving a hindrance rather than a help, due to her psychotic tendencies.
I liked Bounty Killer. It’s packed with cameos from the likes of Gary Busey, Beverley D’Angelo, and Kevin McNally. The latter is my personal favourite, making a very memorable appearance as the guy who collects the bodies and pays out the cash to the bounty killers. For a B-movie, it looks great most of the time, except for some crappy use of CGI. Forgivable though, when it does other carnage so well. Gun fights are fast, bloody, and good to look at. And one scene where Mary Death wields a length of chain with deadly efficiency made me wince. But some of the quieter stuff is nicely framed too, like when Mary Death shakes her pony tail loose and the camera cuts to a shadow of her hair tumbling over her shoulders, against the bright yellow door of her car.
Like that moment, there’s a lot of other moments that made me think that the director, Henry Saine, might be one to watch. This is only his second movie, and whilst it’s probably too derivative to warrant a higher rating than three out of five, there’s a certain something there, that hints at better stuff to come.