A review of The Bad Batch
**** out of five stars
Currently available on video.
by Walter G. Tarrow
It’s astonishing how Ana Lily Amirpour flips established genre films completely on their heads.
She did it with her short Six and a Half. She totally flipped the vampire film with A Girl Walks Alone at Night. And she does it with her dystopian future Texas of deserts, cannibals and Mad Max.
The Bad Batch is Fury Road without the awesome chase sequences and caricatures of future poseurs. Where Fury is fun, Batch is harshly honest. Dystopia is not speed metal and heroes. Ana Lily don’t need no stinkin’ hero, doesn’t need, like Aunty Entity, yet another bigger than life, better than all the rest, hero.
Arlen (Suki Waterhouse) is a survivor, tougher than Theron’s Furiosa. And she’s missing an arm AND a leg. Her escape from her cannibal hosts is the gutsiest thing I’ve seen on screen for quite some time.
Incidentally, the “bad batch” refers to the less fortunate, the disadvantaged, the poor, the illegals, the sick and mentally ill, who the privileged, the wealthy, the Trumpsters, have branded and numbered as BB and walled/fenced off in a desolate Southwest apart from the rest of US. It is the future we have elected, people, and it’s here already.
A number of the abandoned have accepted cannibalism as a method of survival, a life style, (and, be aware, for the weak of stomach, there are graphic depictions of the same), and it is they who occupy The Bridge which exists physically between US and The Dream (Keanu Reeves), who lords, with his perpetually impregnated entourage, over his titular oasis community with some of the comforts (their slogan is Find the Comfort) of the rest of the US such as functioning toilets.
Arlen traverses The Bridge and finds herself in and out of The Dream. The Dream is reminiscent of the underground middle class white community in another dystopian, this one being post-apocalyptic, film of a possible future A Boy and His Dog.
Arlen wanders back out into The Bridge, takes a little girl under her wing, loses her to The Dream, wanders back out into The Bridge, is captured by Miami Man (Jason Momoa), but still manages to miss ever coming into direct contact with The Hermit ( a totally unrecognizable Jim Carrey). Throughout, Arlen survives while staying true to her principles. And she never succumbs to the easy ways out. And she never eats people. A true survivor. An honest hero.
With wide panoramic shots of an empty wasteland punctuated with the daytime cluttered cluster of human detritus that is strewn throughout The Dream and accompanied by the neon boom box head trip of its tourist destination nights, Batch compels us to feel how the homeless, the hopeless, the once Middle Class might be forced to do the evil things.
Heavily symbolic, sociopolitical and acerbic, Batch will soar over the heads of most, be hated by many and appreciated by a few.
I’m one of the few.
Here’s hoping you had a Happy Thanksgiving with many more to come