I assume there are a lot of cosplay people who don their gear and suddenly feel just as cool as the character they mean to emulate. Except they aren't cool. They're total nerds, and their erroneous confidence just makes them that much more nerdy to everyone else.
That's how I feel about Bounty Killer. It's a film playing dress up. Its characters pose like superheroes, talk through affected grit, and play to extraordinarily broad genre archetypes. You don't watch Bounty Killer so much as you watch an impression of all the movies Bounty Killer wants to be.
That sounds damning, but I don't quite mean it in a negative way. If Bounty Killer is like someone doing cosplay, it's that person who really rocked the shit out of their costume, where the obvious craft and creativity that went into the facsimile earns its wearer a whole different kind of confidence. This is a really fun, and very well-made movie, regardless of its clear goofiness.
The plot's crazy. I'm simplifying here, but in the future, white collar criminals basically destroyed the world, and everyone hates them. So bounty hunters track down ones that are still alive and kill them for money. In other words, this is a Mad Max type world where the good guys gun down corrupt businessmen.
From the very beginning, Bounty Killer shows off its impressive quantities of highly stylized violence, gore, and casual invention. We witness our two main Bounty Killers - the stoic Drifter (Matthew Marsden - who you might remember as the sniper guy from Rambo) and the sexy Mary Death (Christian Pitre) - take out a nerdy looking CEO in a hologram strip club. The violence starts almost immediately, and before you know it, tons of people have had their heads blown off and the target is about to escape on a malfunctioning jetpack.
The films opening scenes are speedy to an almost annoying degree. It feels like in an effort to creative liveliness during early exposition bits, director Henry Saine utilizes an editing technique which cuts out any dead space between lines of dialog, so the very second one character ends a word, we jump directly to another character's response. Lucky, the editing rhythms become more normalized as the film settles down to actually tell its story.
Bounty Killer was based on a comic book, and at times, particularly during partially animated segues, it very much resembles a motion comic. This, too, can be grating at first, but as the film goes on, it just becomes another part of its hyper exaggerated aesthetic.
The film is a treasure trove of violence and gore, offering a pretty definitive example of what a Robert Rodriquez Troma film would look like. Bounty Killer walks a fine line between cartoonish CG bloodshed and wonderfully gratuitous practical effects. There's really no sense in having someone's head get sliced off with spurs if we're not going to see the noggin bounce around like a basketball while the neck vomits geysers of red syrup. Bounty Killer knows this and revels in each of its many opportunities to go gross.
I don't know how much Bounty Killer cost, but it couldn't have been much. The film has a couple car explosions and features quick turns from both Gary Busey and Beverly D'Angelo, so it was certainly more than a mimosa brunch. Henry Saine stages set pieces with an almost heroic disregard for budget limitations, however, and somehow manages to pull it off. There's an extended Stagecoach/Road Warrior modified car chase through the desert that really impresses both in its execution and wild ambition. Much of it would have been impossible without digital aid, but I'm starting to really enjoy how cheesy CG has become the new "I can see the zipper" in cheap genre films.
I find that I enjoy Bounty Killer more now in my memory than I actually did while watching it. This isn't a great film by any means. But the creativity and invention on display ultimately transcends its limitations, and now I'm rooting for it to connect with its limited potential audience.
Bounty Killer hits theaters and VOD on September 6.