“Bounty Killer” was released in 2013, it’s an action/grindhouse style flick set in a futuristic/post apocalyptic world populated by corporate greed. The Council of Nine have become the new law, judges but not the executioners. They leave that task for hired guns known as Bounty Killers who are responsible for killing white-collar criminals. These men and women kill for the body count, the fame but most importantly the money that goes along with it. The story follows Drifter (Matthew Marsden), a bounty hunter who has had some trouble with the law and decides to take a ride and visit the council in hopes that they will spare his life for the crime he committed. Mary Death (played by the gorgeous Christian Pitre), has been on and off with Drifter since they met at a bar long before things went south. She decides to take it upon herself to hunt Drifter down and finish the job herself. With clear inspiration from films such as “Mad Max”, “Shoot Em Up” and the cool little indie flick “Bitch Slap”, Bounty Killer combines gorgeous women, fast cars, arsenals of weapons and pure carnage and manages to deliver on all fronts. The film also stars Kristanna Loken (Terminator: Rise Of The Machines), Barak Hardley, Beverly D’Angelo and Gary Busey.
Let’s begin with the style of a film like this, at no point does this claim to be original in style or in story so don’t get carried away writing this thing off before you even get started. The intro credits open up much like a Robert Rodriguez film (Machete) and some of the editing and sketching looks awesome. The camera zooms in and out of drawn maps that transition onto location and sets, it really gives it that cool grindhouse dynamic. The plot of course is very much along the lines of so many other films like Dredd, Mad Max and Shoot Em Up, just to name a few. I liked the modern-day social popularity contest and the competitive nature of these bounty killers, it was almost like something you see on reality TV these days. Mary Death has a lot of sass and knows how to kick some ass, she takes it up to Drifter for most of the film. The two seem in constant competition as to who has more kills and whose the bigger fan favorite and that makes for some really fun scenes.
We get some pretty cool characters throughout the film. For starters, the eye candy in the movie is a real treat. Christian rocks a killer “Old Town” (Sin City reference), kind of wardrobe with awesome white boots with complimentary knives attached (of course), she kicks just as much butt with her hair down as she does up and you won’t want to miss a couple of her absolutely brutal kills as well as having a good perve (haha). Drifter is a bit of a dope and not all that interesting as a character but his side kick and shy “gun caddy” Jack (Hardley), was a breath of fresh air. I recently saw Barak in Bryan Bertino’s “Mockingird”,which was a very underwhelming film but he was by far the best aspect of it and played his role of a clown very well. Loken as Catherine, head of one of the main corporations still looks every bit as good as she did twelve years ago in T3. Although her attire is a little different she still pulls of the sexy office manager look. Topping things off I make quick mention of Mindy Robinson (up and coming actress with a lot of credits to here name), and her bar girls who supply us with some nudity and look stunning. The gypsies also make for an interesting addition to the script. This is surprisingly well shot considering the modest budget. The car chases through the arid landscape look awesome and the action sequences play out perfectly. The interesting music choices really helped add to the enjoyment as well.
I think Bounty Killer’s strongest aspect is the pacing and choreography of the fight sequences. They are every bit as good as a Rodriguez film and nothing ever gets boring. Each of the acts of the film has a main fight and I think as the film progresses they get better and that’s how it should be. In the beginning a few criminals bite the dust and the dry but funny Willy hands out the payments along with a few pretty funny lines. In the middle portion of the film we get a great daytime chase sequence through the bad lands involving Drifter and Jack and a bus being followed by a group of crazy gypsies. This made for some intense action and some great blood and gore. I don’t want to spoil any of the kills but this one is a hard R rating and there’s some of the best kills I’ve seen in a film of this genre and most of them are all done practically.
Right off the bat we all know this thing isn’t one bit original and that causes most critics to judge it unfairly. Most people would naturally draw comparisons between this and other films of the same genre, I have already acknowledged that so let’s move on. Technically the film is not without fault, it’s evident in the audio issues during some of the action sequences. When characters are in vehicles or on motorbikes and they are attempting to talk to each other it comes across pretty hollow and distant. The dialogue probably isn’t terribly important in those scenes but who knows if it was because you can’t really hear it over the sound of engines. Some of the explosions and CG backgrounds of the landscape look pretty hokey and that stuff probably should have been kept to a minimum due to budget issues. It’s almost as though the crew thought they were making a hundred million dollar movie and tried to construct it accordingly. The stuff on location, the buildings the detail of the scenes look really good for the most part, it’s just when things are shown on a bigger scale that it looks a little corny. The bad lands (big desert), at night looked particularly average. The scene was shot with almost zero lighting, just a few flashes here and there and a lot of wind. I’m not going to sugarcoat it because it looked pretty cringeworthy, fortunately it was only for five minutes or so.
There is definitely some inconsistent acting as well, some of the acting during general conversation was a little bit hammy and didn’t really add much to the story, which was kind of a typical one anyway. I thought Christian was really good in some of her emotional scenes but some of the “I’m a tough girl” stuff was a little forced. The rest of the cast put in decent enough performances given the content of the film. The lack of plot and predictable tropes held the film back from really competing with the best. You know the predictable romance is coming and that each of these characters are going to try to save the other one and when the writers really try to raise the human emotion in order to connect with you in a film like this it kind of takes you out of it because everything else in it isn’t supposed to be taken seriously, it’s just stupid fun.
Bounty Killer is just 80 minutes of pure entertainment. I’m not a real guys guy but everything in this looked great, from the girls, to the cars and bikes, to the gun and knife fights and most importantly the brutal practical effects. I feel like I shouldn’t be giving this thing a high rating simply for the fact that countless other films have done exactly the same thing well before this was even an idea. Nothing will ever be as good as a Robert Rodriguez film within the genre but Bounty Killer is just a blast and about as good as these things get!
My rating for “Bounty Killer” is 7/10