Rated: R for violence, language, some drug content and brief nudity. Reviewed by: Jim Release date: June 23, 2017 Released by: Neon
More of a pretentious, undeveloped meander than vibrant dystopian allegory is this less than shaded, occasionally lurid tale from canny, promising Iranian-American filmmaker Ana Lily Amirpour.
She previously had her way in the feminist vampire drama, now in post-apocalyptic (though with a retro vibe) territory with The Bad Batch which may resonate with some as social commentary. But, it hasn't enough going for it regarding the emotional dynamics of its arguably too cursory narrative and characters.
Still, the outset will probably be eye-grapping enough for the Midnight Madness crowd with protagonist Arlen (British model Suki Waterhouse of Insurgent) designated in a walled-off hellish landscape as part of the eponymous group. She'll encounter the Bridge and Comfort sects where cannibals and hallucinogens will figure into her unlikely, crazy retributive milieu after losing limbs but having a skateboard after fitted for a prosthetic leg.
Arlen will eradicate in a garbage dump the wife of a soulful, intense 'Bridger' artist (and Cuban refugee) Miami Man (Jason Momoa) and be retained to get his six-year-old daughter (Jaydn Fink) who has ended up in the 'Comfort' zone. There, Rockwell or 'Dream' (a nattily attired Keanu Reeves ironically with the most dialogue) is the puffy, hirsute potentate within a boom-box enclave with its raves. It doesn't matter to Amirpour in not providing the means by which these factions operate in a lawless environment.
If the filmmaking goes for a metaphysical payoff it may appear as thin as spaghetti with an eye-rolling denouement. Maybe Jim Carrey as a sun-scorched hermit who's positioned like an ethical weathervane probably has more magnetism than expected or the connection between Arlen and Miami Man. Or, when Giovanni Ribisi's quirkily irritating companion occupies the screen.
Amirpour does, however, work well with her technical staff like cinematographer Lyle Vincent and musical duo Darkside to impart impressive imagery and mood. It's just not in service in what lumbers with banality and heavy-handedness to synthesize what pretty much amounts to a bad cinematic batch.
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