THE BAD BATCH Movie Review

By Victoria Alexander, Film Critic

Las vegas Informer

Astonishing, daring, fearless. Be warned-Amirpour doesn’t care what you think.

Writer-director Ana Lily Amirpour is fantastic! She is a highly unique filmmaker with what I consider the single most important element in filmmaking – a strong, personal point of view. She has something to say and just presents it in its rawest form. There is no preaching or need to shove emotions in your face. She doesn’t want to show you her ideas for a better world. Peace, harmony and feeding the poor are not on Amirpour’s agenda.

The little I of know of Amirpour are just two comments a friend made about her presentation of her first film, A GIRL WALKS HOME ALONE AT NIGHT at UNLV last year. I could not make the screening and Q & A. The most direct and uncomplicated summary of Amirpour’s presentation was this: She said “fuck” endlessly and was intentionally staying in one of the least favorable parts of Las Vegas while she wrote her next film. Well, she could have just taken up drinking or heroin or become a degenerate gambler for inspiration, but crime-ridden Las Vegas?

Three Las Vegas neighborhoods were ranked in the top 10 on a “Top 25 Most Dangerous Neighborhoods” list, according to consumer finance site WalletPop.com.

I found a commenter’s opinion on Las Vegas’s dangerous neighborhoods: “North Las Vegas pretty much anywhere BELOW Aliante, the A Street, B Street, C Street area, and the downtown area EAST of Las Vegas BLVD north of Charleston have the highest violent crime rates and are VERY dangerous areas. Google it if you don’t believe me. Especially near 95 and Eastern. A few zips in these areas were recently surveyed as the statistically most dangerous in America.”

THE BAD BATCH stars model Suki Waterhouse. Either Waterhouse is a fabulous untrained actress or Amirpour is a terrific director. After watching A GIRL WALKS HOME ALONE AT NIGHT, and the way Amirpour directed Dominic Rains and his scenes with Sheila Vand, I’d say she is an actor’s director. A valuable, but under-appreciated, commodity in Hollywood.

With THE BAD BATCH, Waterhouse transcends the model “who really wants to be an actress” trope. I would say Suki absolutely did not need the enormous publicity she garnered from being Bradley Cooper’s gossiped about “contractual” girlfriend.

I hate the words “curated”, eponymous and “dystopian”.

Arlen (Waterhouse) is being processed out of some high, fenced-off enclave. A sign warns that outside the fence is a lawless desert that no longer belongs to the U.S.A. The sign ends with “Good luck.”

Well, our Arlen is tough and not at all phased by being left in a desert. Walking for hours in the sun, she stops to refresh her lipstick in an abandoned car. Captured by two females riding around on a golf buggy scavenging trash, Arlen is overtaken and dragged to a cannibal community where she is chained up and drugged.

On August 22, 2017, the New York Post ran a story, “Hundreds confess to eating human flesh in South Africa.” “One of the four accused cannibals allegedly walked into a police station in the central South African town while holding human body parts, including a leg and a hand, and confessed to being “tired of eating human flesh.”

The garbage dump settlement is littered with men missing limbs. Arlen wakes up to another injection as a woman takes a hacksaw to her arm (from her elbow) and a leg (from her knee). Her wounds cauterized by a frying pan, Arlen is a survivor and cleverly kills the old woman. She takes off on a skateboard.

Arlen is rescued by a hermit (Jim Carrey) who takes her to a community of outsiders called Comfort, presided over by The Dream (Keanu Reeves).

Five months later Arlen is settled in Comfort, with a room all her own and a makeshift prosthetic leg. She’s got money and things. She is a true heroine, but in the least bothered by her mutilations.

Was it revenge or something else that made Arlen go outside the protected confines of Comfort? She has acquired a gun and, still wearing the same cut-offs, she goes solo into the desert.

Wandering around Arlen sees one of her captors (Yolonda Ross), with a young girl, Honey (Jayda Fink).

Now Honey is the treasure of cannibal Miami Man (Jason Momoa) and he wants her back. Meanwhile, Comfort is holding one of its ritualistic LSD raves. Once again wandering off, Arlen meets up with Miami Man. If she doesn’t bring Honey back to him, he will kill her.

Now there is nobody who looks like Miami Man in Comfort – even if he is a cannibal who ate her arm and leg. A good man is hard to find – especially in the Apocalypse. Arlen’s evolutionary prerogative is to mate with a man who will protect her.

Honey has fast become the pride of The Dream (Keanu Reeves), the man who controls Comfort with his drugs and DJ (Diego Luna). The Dream offers Arlen pride-of-place as his newest baby mama but Arlen doesn’t like the arrangement, even if it means luxury, spaghetti and bubble baths.

Arlen returns to the desert with Honey. 

Arlen’s defiance and her ability to be a survivor keeps you engaged and with her. There’s no woe is me, look what happened to me. Am I still pretty? And Momoa throws off enough sexuality to make anyone consider throwing in with him. He’s the ultimate bad boy!

The entire production is fantastic and gives visual significance to Amirpour’s world. Amirpour’s special talent is finding Dominic Rains and convincing Momoa, and Carrey, and the entire cast to join her radical, fearless second film.

Member of Las Vegas Film Critics Society: www.lvfcs.org/.

Victoria Alexander lives in Las Vegas, Nevada and answers every email at victoria.alexander.lv@gmail.com.

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