Friday, 23 September 2016

Turbo Kid (2015)

2015 was a pretty good year for post-apocalyptic films.  Obviously the big fish in the pond was Mad Max: Fury Road, but it also brought us this action-comedy ode to the 1980s.  Turbo Kid is certainly not a flawless film - we'll talk about some of the problems later - but I thoroughly enjoyed it nonetheless.  I certainly think it helps to have been a kid growing up in the 80s, though.  For one thing, you're not likely to understand the film's obsession with BMX bikes if you didn't.

I'll let the film's deliberately cheesy opening narration set the scene for you:

This is the future. The world as we knew it is gone. Acid rain has left the land barren and the water toxic. Scarred by endless wars, humanity struggles to survive in the ruins of the old world, frozen in an everlasting nuclear winter. This is the future... this is the year 1997.

We're then introduced to The Kid, a young man eking out a living by scavenging the wasteland and selling the ancient relics he finds.  He lives in an underground bunker filled with comic books and 80s bric-a-brac and travels around on his BMX.  Think Rey from The Force Awakens, if she was a nebbish 17 year old boy.  By tagging along with The Kid, we get to meet Frances - the toughest hombre around - and Apple, a quirky young woman who takes an instant-if-overly-enthusiastic liking to our "hero".

Which brings us to one issue that I have with the film.  Apple's an amusing and entertaining character, but she's very much in the "Manic Pixie Dream Girl" mould.  Her script role is mostly to help the kid grow into the hero he's always wanted to be.  But she also impales a bad guy on a unicorn ornament, so I'm inclined to give her something of a pass.

Mentioning the impalement brings up something else that may be an issue to some folks: this is a very gory film.  Said gore isn't very realistic, but it is effusive.  Gouts of blood and internal organs shower the screen.

Why is there so much gore?  Well, in the manner of most post-apocalyptic films, there's an evil warlord out there.  This is Zeus (played by Michael Ironside, who is probably the only person in the movie you may have heard of), who leads your typical bunch of wasteland raiders.  Zeus's power comes from his command of the only source of water in the area: though what most people don't know is that his source of water is people.  I'm confident that this makes as much sense as "they use us for power" did in The Matrix, i.e. zero, but this is not a film that takes itself seriously, so I'm going to let it slide.

So The Kid and Apple and Frances naturally end up on the bad side of Zeus and his cronies, which sets up the core struggle of the film.

If you're of the right age group, have the necessarily off-colour sense of humour, and are willing to overlook the lack of female characters in the film, you'll probably have a good time with Turbo Kid.  I did.

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