The Bad Batch, a messy, sunbaked pop-culture cobbler written and directed by Ana Lily Amirpour, is both a bummer and a blast. At a time when presidential candidate Donald Trump is advocating the construction of a physical wall to protect the national purity of the American population, the concept of Bad Batch seems dystopian.Amirpour remains one of the most exciting filmmakers working today, thus expectations from her are higher.
And while the film gets off to a rollicking, nasty, effortlessly filmed opening sequence, it begins to falter as it moves on; eventually unraveling into a supremely disappointing third act that isn’t quite sure what it wants to be. The movie revolves around Arlen, played by Suki Waterhouse, who seems fine and dandy roaming the wasteland for her first hour. Suddenly, she encounters an encampment of bodybuilders who practice cannibalism and subsequently has her arm and leg removed and eaten. Arlen is kidnapped, drugged, chained up and invited to dinner, one limb at a time. The story reignites when Waterhouse escapes the cannibals and finds refuge in a town called Comfort, which is run by a mysterious cult leader played by a mustachioed Keanu Reeves. After a series of horrifying events, Arlen comes into contact with one of the cannibal members played by Jason Momoa, and the film somewhat switches from a revenge tale to a more dramatic version of Midnight Run.It’s a rare depiction of mutual, platonic love between Arlen and Miami— or something like it at least.But the film doesn’t quite live up to its creepy, savage opening, or carry through its best ideas.
Amidst of bad acting and thin storyline, thereare also stuffs to enjoy about The Bad Batch. Amirpour has put a lot of effort into creating sweeping desert photography and detailed thrift-store set dressing. As she did in her 2014 debut, A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night, director Ana Lily Amirpour builds an immersive world, she lets the pictures do her talking.You may wonder what the heck you’re looking at, but that’s kind of the point cinematic blue balls!!
It’s a shame to see Ana’s magic dimmed by a thin storyline and misguided acting choices.Unfortunately, Ana’s A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night had a clear and cohesive vision of theme which lacks in The Bad Batch. Moreover, the film takes a tonal turn towards its tail end that arrives as if out of nowhere.The movie struggles to fully realize its thematic potential. It’s when the dialogue-driven portion of the film kicks in that the movie frustratingly begins to lose its way. Amirpour’s visual storytelling has rather more fluency and wit.
As such, it’s good, dirty fun. It’s oddly ahead of its time.But it also takes exploitation — of bodies, of feeling— seriously.“The Bad Batch” doesn’t hold out much hope for the future, it seems, but your 1980s boombox can look forward to a comeback. Amirpour’s own grungy desert dust-ride is more meandering and less immediate in its impact.Though, after a terrific start to movie, the story begins to lose its soul. The plot begins to meander with Amirpour trying to fit too many ideas and vibes in the same movie. Thus, it begins to fall apart in a third act full of puzzling character decisions.To be fair, “The Bad Batch” isn’t necessarily out to touch the heart.