Toronto After Dark Review: Bounty Killer
After entertaining Toronto After Dark audiences with his science fiction comedy The Last Lovecraft: Relic of Cthulhu back in 2010, director Henry Saine returns with his unique blend of humor and gunfire. This time around Saine turns his gaze on something far more evil than a sea monster…corporate greed. Taking cues from post-apocalyptic genre films, such as the Mad Max franchise, Bounty Killer is a film set in a land where CEOs are hunted, gypsies are feared, and bounty hunters (known as “bounty killers”) are treated like celebrities.
Saine’s action comedy takes place just after the “corporate wars” has decimated civilization. It is a world where a six pack of beer can buy you safe passage through some of the harshest areas. Despite the volatile nature of the world, white-collar criminals, though prominent fixtures on wanted posters, still cannot help but flaunt their excess every chances they get. Of course this only fuels people’s lust to increase the CEO bloodshed. Fortunately, there are a slew of bounty killers eager to accept the challenge and collect their reward money. Two of the top bounty killers in the land are Drifter (Matthew Marsden), a rugged man of few words, and Mary Death (Christian Pitre), a deadly vixen in white go-go boots. Though they convey a friendly rivalry for the press, it is clear that a romantic passion is burning underneath their façade.
When a friend of Drifter’s ends up on the wrong end of a death warrant, Drifter sets off, with recently hired gun caddy Jack LeMans (Barak Hardley) in tow, to uncover what is really going on. Knowing only that the reclusive Council of Nine, the governing body of the world, hold the true answers, Drifter sets in motion a plan to breach the council walls. Considered a suicide mission by many, Drifter tries his best, feebly mind you, to keep Mary Death at bay. However, fiercely independent, Mary Death will stop at nothing to see the mission through, even if it means encountering a cannibalistic Gypsy tribe lead by Queen Mocha Sujata (played by rapper/actress Eve Jeffers)
Although the evil of the 1% is a prominent catalyst, do not go into Bounty Killer expecting a deep social commentary. Saine’s only intention is to have fun at the most common level. Sure the film is silly, and dare I say juvenile at times, but that is actually part of its charm. For a film that claims to be about the evils of excess, Saine revels in overindulgence. Whether it is the way his camera lingers on the various curves of Pitre’s body, or how giddy he gets in showing numerous decapitations, there is little that the film holds back on.
Despite the ridiculous plot, and over-the-top violence, Saine still manages to keep the narrative more cohesive than Robert Rodriguez’s recent effort Machete Kills (whose Alexa Vega is also featured in this film). While Rodriguez’s film plays more like a parody of itself, Bounty Killer at least tries to keep its foot firmly planted in a specific genre. Even the film’s cameos, by the likes of Gary Busey, Beverly D’Angelo and Kristanna Loken, seem to work well for the tone of the film. While not on par with classic post-apocalyptic films, Bounty Killer, as silly as it may be, effectively provides a few mindless hours of levity and action…which is all it aims for in the first place.