The Bad Batch (2016)

The Bad Batch (2016) movie poster

director Ana Lily Amirpour
viewed: 06/24/2017 at Alamo Drafthouse Cinema – New Mission, SF, CA

I’ve been eagerly awaiting Ana Lily Amirpour’s The Bad Batch since I watched her A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (2014).

And…I’m not sure how successful it is, or isn’t.

It’s a cool-looking movie, set in some desert outside of Texas where the unredeemable of society are dumped. As Amirpour grew up in Bakersfield, it’s a landscape not too far away from reality or today, perhaps especially as embodied around the Salton Sea.

But this is a thing of fiction and the future as well. These outlands are inhabited by iron-pumping cannibals and blissed-out trash hipsters. And star Suki Waterhouse finds out the hard way, losing an arm and a leg to the first while trying to figure out her place with the latter.

But it’s a film with a confused message, one of revenge…and then not. And I think that is maybe one of the issues: it seems like it’s heading in a fairly narrative-driven way, and then sort of doesn’t. And it’s hard to say if this play with narrative is intentional or misguided, or maybe even something that might make sense eventually.

On one end of the spectrum is Jason Momoa, the biggest pile of beef in the wasteland. Gosh knows he and his crew probably need all that human protein to stay so ripped and huge. On the other end, is Keanu Reeves, a.k.a. “The Dream”, who leads a town of “Comfort” as a small town on the playa. It would be like Burning Man, but he’s also got a drug enterprise and an armada of armed pregnant women who he’s apparently inseminated. He proselytizes a new age-y pseudo religion that is clearly creepy, but also…

In the end, I really don’t know. I was brought to mind of the line from Moby Dick “Better sleep with a sober cannibal than a drunken Christian” and maybe that has something to do with the ending, but also maybe not.

I really liked a lot of the movie and I can’t wait for Amirpour to make more movies.

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