Cousin Franz: “A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night,” with its “feminist Iranian vampire,” heralded Ana Lily Amirpour as one of the most interesting new filmmakers of the decade. “The Bad Batch,” with its “post-apocalyptic Cuban cannibal,” does not persuade me otherwise, but doesn’t advance her claim farther. In the uncomfortably hot near future, the Texan desert has been fenced off into a prison for “the Bad Batch”: branded misfits and criminals whose transgressions appear to range from murder to mental health issues to the wrong skin color. Into the batch goes Arlen, (played by British up-and-comer Suki Waterhouse). We don’t know what Arlen has done, but we know what will be done TO her. She will be someone’s dinner.
Cannibalism is popular in this dystopia, it turns out, (diet fads are cyclical, one supposes). Arlen is captured by cannibals, loses an arm and a leg, and then escapes to become easily the least traumatized, most resolute double amputee protagonist in the history of cinema. Her escape is only the prologue to her adventures, so it’s not a spoiler to mention it here; neither is it to say that she will collide with “Game of Thrones”‘ Jason Momoa, as a hardened Cuban cannibal with a soft artistic side.
Beatricia: And with a “Miami Man” tattoo across his prominent pectorals! A Cuban shield on his magnificent abs! A map of Cuba on his thick, masculine neck! You forgot all those! Cherry!
Cousin Franz: Sure, ok, those too. “The Bad Batch” is a striking meld of art signifiers and genre tropes, but I will admit it left me wishing that Amirpour would collaborate with someone else on her future scripts. This someone would have to be less suspicious of natural dialogue, and more willing to allow its audience to be, well, entertained. A movie that draws so literally from George Miller’s “Mad Max” and “The Road Warrior,” from Alejandro Jodorowsky’s “El Topo,” from Wes Craven’s “The Hills Have Eyes” and from John Ford’s “The Searchers,” has no need to be this…
Hank: Slow and boring?
Cousin Franz: … deliberate in its pacing.
Tracey: This is brilliant! Ana Lily Amirpour delivers another triumphant commentary on feminism.
Hank: Tracey, kiddo. For a commentary on feminism, this movie is male-gazey as all heck. Half of “The Bad Batch” is devoted to shots of the actress’ butt occupying half of the screen.
Tracey: Well, it might be about able-ism, now that I think about it, what with the heroine missing limbs. Or maybe it’s about the American Dream, because there’s that American flag jigsaw puzzle that’s pointedly missing pieces. Maybe it’s all a comment on the inadequacies of the prison system? But then again, it could be about the benefits of veganism over meat-eating. Maybe it’s about ineffective immigration laws, what with the nice Jason Momoa character, whose only crime was not having papers and being a horrid cannibal. “The Bad Batch” COULD also be about patriarchal religion, what with the condescending porno-guru played by Keanu Reeves. Or about mental health stigma, what with the raving Giovani Ribisi and the unrecognizable Jim Carrey in brief cameos?
Grandpa Felicius: That’s quite accurate, young Tracey. This IS an incoherent mess. Also messes: Suki Waterhouse’s Texas drawl and Jason Momoa’s Tony Montana accent.
Trent: “Come on, liddle roaches! Yoo wanna play ruff? Say helloh to Khal Drogo!” “The Bad Batch” has a trailer’s worth of bad-ass moments, but one has to trek through a desert of “art” to get there. But, hey, just like “The Lonely Girl who Got Home Late One Night Because She was a Vampire,” this movie has skateboards and skeletons. That’s how the “auteur theory” works, right, Cousin Franz? Same as Stanley Rubik Cube, who put skeletons and skateboards in all his movies, like “Heavy Metal Jackets.”
Cousin Franz: Not really.
Blurbarella: “Soft, artistic– Miami Man– Suspicious of– the raving– Tony Montana–who Put Skeletons in all his–Jackets.”
3 out of 6 Cherries