Grindhouse films have had quite a revival this past decade. What was once a coveted home to indie filmmakers quickly opened itself up to the public with the Robert Rodriguez/Quentin Tarantino double feature of Planet Terror and Deathproof. In the span of about 6 hours, everyone learned that movies could be fun again. Not just the audience, but actors, actresses, and directors seemed to be having fun on the screen rather than trying to be emotionally compelling actors.
Did you every imagine Robert DeNiro playing a right-wing racist politician like he did in Machete? Or Rutger Hauer as a homeless bum taking on a city of corruption in Hobo with a Shotgun? If your answer is “yes,” stop being difficult. No, you didn’t. And that’s what is so great about today’s grindhouse. It’s fun, surprisingly, and out of its mind.
The film Bounty Killer falls into this category of new wave grindhouse as well. It may not have the star clout of other films, but what it lacks in popularity it makes up for with subtle social commentary hidden throughout the film.
The year is 2042. The world is in ruins after international corporations took over governments, then proceeded to blow it all to hell in the last world war. Now, CEOs have prices on their heads by the people, and bounty killers search to claim those prices by bringing in these leaders of industry, dead…or extremely dead.
Bounty Killer follows the exploits of two corporate assassins, Drifter (played by Matthew Marsden) and Mary Death (played by Christian Pitre) as they fight a gang of yellow-tied gangsters, Second Sun, who are hell-bent on taking control of the world once again. Armed with enough guns to outfit a small army, a bumbling gun caddy (Barak Hardley), and a bloodthirsty attitude, Drifter and Mary Death fight through corporate thugs, death-faced gypsies, and even the likes of Gary Busey and Kristanna Loken in order to bring the freedom of chaos back from the grip of fascist order.
Once again, the beauty of new wave grindhouse is brought to us in Bounty Killer as the film strives to answer, “What will the world be like in 50 years?” Its answers are nothing short of hilarious.
Apparently, we will live in a mechanized Wild West. Everyone will have guns. Native Americans will be replaced by punks fresh out of a celebration of El Dio de los Muertos. Stagecoaches with horses will be replaced by motor-homes with motorcycles.
The set-up is amazing, not only because it could actually happen, but because it’s just fun to watch. A chase scene rife with gunfire, explosions, and vehicles that Mad Max and The Humungus would be proud of is arguably the greatest scene in Bounty Killer. Not only is it action-packed, but it features gore that is usually reserved for horror films…or grindhouse and spaghetti westerns.
However, Bounty Killer is not all fun and games. Well, it mostly is, but if you look a bit deeper you can see the social commentary of a sub-culture’s fear of corporate America. This is most prevalent with the evil Catherine, whose soap opera-ish relationship with Drifter not only gives us enough satire to make the action relevant, but humanizes the people of Second Sun, the evil CEOs. That busty blonde holding a cigar in front of a blood-spattered window may be part of the evil corporations, but that doesn’t me everyone is like that. Some may be turned. You’ll have to watch the film to understand fully but, believe me, it’s a good twist.
While the social commentary and action sequences are good, they could have been better. There are times that Bounty Killer strives to show all of the toys it received since its conception as a film short, like pretty new CGI effects, a couple of D-list celebrities, and a way too long back-story. In these instances, the film seems to stall, taking us out of the action for no real reason.
I give Bounty Killer 3 out of 5 Mary Deaths. Definitely enjoyable, but not truly re-watchable.