Bullets of Justice


One of these mustachioed warriors is a girl.

(2020) Action Comedy (The Horror CollectiveDanny Trejo, Timur Turisbekov, Doroteya Toleva, Yana Marinova, Semir Alkadi, Nell Andonova, Dessy Slanova, Daniel Zlatkov, Askar Turisbekov, Svetlio Chernev, Geigana Arolska, Dumisani Karamanski, Alexander Ralfietta, Vei Fan Li, Dara Kandi, Emanuela Toleva, Ester Chardaklieva. Directed by Valeri Malev

 

Some movies are meant to make sense. Others deliberately skew their film so that making sense of it requires some work. Others are so unhinged that they left sense in the rearview about 500 miles back.

Rob Justice (T. Turisbekov) is a bounty hunter living in a post-Apocalyptic wasteland following a third world war that devastated the planet. In the ruins lives a resistance – who are they resisting, you might ask? Muzzles, a human and pig mixtures who were created in a lab and meant to be super soldiers, but instead have taken over, hunting down humans to use as food. The Earth has become their own giant Piggly Wiggly, as it were.

They’d best get to eating while they can; the human race has become sterile, and should be gone in a single generation but they won’t go gently into that good night. They – and by they I mean Rob – means to find the Pig Mother, an enormous queen Muzzle who is the source of all new piggies. Rob means to find the Pig Mother and put a bullet – or more like a whole lotta bullets – into her skull and end the Muzzle threat forever.

Assisting him in this venture is his sister Raksha (Toleva) who, inexplicably, has a full moustache on her upper lip, and with whom he enjoys a semi-incestuous relationship – you see they aren’t really full-blooded relatives. Sort of. Kind of. Don’t think about it too much or your head will explode.

Oh, and Danny Trejo shows up as a gravedigger who raised Rob and Raksha until he was murdered by Muzzles. That’s the source of Rob’s genocidal rage. Or maybe it’s that the Muzzles communicate by farting. Yeah, farting.

This is one of those movies that just when you think “Oh no, they can’t go there,” there is precisely where they go, unerringly and with as much gusto as they can muster. Here you’ll witness death by teabagging, human genitalia used as a gunsight, and more pig dookie than you can shake a slab of bacon at.

It’s just entertaining enough that you may (or may not) notice the absolute rock bottom production values. However, you almost certainly will notice that the acting is just a step above a bunch of your drunk friends getting together and doing a table reading of Pulp Fiction. One gets the sense that the filmmakers blew their budget on Trejo and a sequence with a jetpack early on in the film. They probably got the pig masks for cost from somebody’s Uncle.

This is not a film that pushes boundaries; the filmmakers simply don’t care about them. This is the kind of movie that you watch when you’re drunk enough to soil yourself (preferably with both number one and number two). I’m going to go out on a limb and say this isn’t going to be for everyone; you’ll either get it or you won’t. You’ll either love it or you’ll feel like bathing in battery acid afterwards to get the stench out of your skin. There won’t be a whole lot of in-between on this one. It’s so willfully deranged, so unapologetically cracked, so joyfully whacko that it could only have come from the land of Putin.

REASONS TO SEE: Completely deranged; off-the-scale when it comes to pure sheer insanity.
REASONS TO AVOID: The acting and effects are shoddy.
FAMILY VALUES: There is gore, violence, profanity, sex, nudity, drug use….basically anything you don’t want your kids to see is present in this film.
TRIVIAL PURSUIT: In addition to starring in the film, Timr Turisbekov also co-wrote it.
BEYOND THE THEATERS: Amazon, AppleTV, Google Play, Microsoft, Vimeo,  YouTube
CRITICAL MASS: As of 11/15/20: Rotten Tomatoes: 57% positive reviews. Metacritic: No score yet.
COMPARISON SHOPPING: Bad Taste
FINAL RATING: 6.5/10
NEXT:
Where She Lies

Gravity


In space, nobody can hear you scream "OH CRAP!!!!"

In space, nobody can hear you scream “OH CRAP!!!!”

(2013) Thriller (Warner Brothers) Sandra Bullock, George Clooney, Ed Harris (voice), Phaldut Sharma (voice), Orto Ignatiussen (voice), Amy Warren (voice), Basher Savage (voice). Directed by Alfonso Cuaron

Some movies go for a visceral experience, using special effects to bedazzle and wow their audience. Others go for an emotional experience, using the dialogue and characters to create a response in their audience. It is a rare thing for filmmakers to attempt both in the same film.

Gravity is a game-changer in almost every sense of the word. Here, we are treated to a magnificent view of a space shuttle mission drifting in space with the curve of planet Earth hanging above them. It is breathtaking in and of itself. The mission to make some software updates and minor repairs to the Hubble Space Telescope is commanded by Matt Kowalski (Clooney), an affable, devilishly handsome country music fan on his last mission hoping to break a Russian cosmonaut’s record for longest space walk. With him is Dr. Ryan Stone (Bullock), a mission specialist on her first trip into the great big out there. Kowalski is testing a brand new thruster pack that is working much better than the repairs and upgrade to the Hubble are.

Then Mission Control (Harris) orders them back to the shuttle for an emergency evacuation. It seems that the Russians have spontaneously decided to destroy one of their spy satellites but in typical Russian fashion haven’t really thought it through. The resulting explosion set off a chain reaction of debris impacting other satellites which in turn sends off more debris to impact more satellites. Small pieces of satellite are hurtling through orbit at speeds faster than bullets, wiping out everything in their path. GPS and communications satellites are going down rapidly as the debris approaches the shuttle and its crew.

The shuttle and the Hubble are destroyed in a silent, spectacular spray of debris. Only Ryan and Matt survive the initial disaster but they are far from out of the woods. Their ride home destroyed, they will need to find some other means of getting back. The International Space Station is near enough by that they can use the Soyuz craft as a lifeboat but that too has been hit by debris, leaving only a Chinese space station as a last hope. Dr. Stone, living with her own tragedy and with little experience, must summon up every bit of training she’s received and every ounce of courage she possesses to find a way back home against all odds.

Let’s look at the visual aspect of the film first – in a word, stunning. I think it’s safe to say that this is the most immersive special effects experience in any movie since Avatar. You are brought into a world that is made utterly believable and real and at the same time utterly alien. While in Avatar that world was Pandora, here it is outer space. You never for an instant doubt that these are astronauts floating in the weightlessness of zero gravity. It is an astonishing achievement of special effects. Don’t be surprised if there are Oscars awarded for it in February.

The collisions of debris and machine take place in absolute silence. Since sound doesn’t travel in space this is as it should be. It is also completely terrifying. Don’t let the sounds of collisions on the trailer fool you – the studio insisted on them for the trailer but they are absent in the final film. We are often treated to the point of view of Dr. Stone, seeing things through her helmet. We see her breath fogging the helmet glass; see the panic in her eyes and the spinning of her horizon as she hurtles through space in the initial cataclysm. It is breathtaking in its simplicity, devastating in consequence as the audience gradually realizes what these shots mean. The enormity of what these characters face is unstated; it is left to the imagination of the audience to conjure up their own conclusions.

Looking at the emotional aspect, we have to first start with Bullock. This is clearly her movie and she is the avatar of the audience, representing us in the film. She is inexperienced because we are as well; it is far more effective to have her trying to guess and figure out what to do rather than see things through the eyes of Kowalski who is better trained. He is there mainly to offer encouragement to Dr. Stone and a bit of comic relief here and there.

As impressive as the special effects are, this is a very human film. As we see the astronauts struggle to survive and figure out a way against all hope to get back home, we see our own struggle to survive in a world just as inhospitable and unforgiving and cold as that of outer space. We become invested in Dr. Stone and in no small part due to Bullock’s performance. This may well be her crowning achievement as an actress; it’s note-perfect capturing the flaws and frailties of a character who is brilliant but terrified. She is in fact brilliant enough to imagine the negative outcome of what is happening to her. Clooney gets to essentially play himself; wise-cracking and devilishly handsome but entirely competent at what he does.

In a nice little grace note, Cuaron casts Ed Harris to be the voice of Mission Control; Harris also played Flight Director Gene Kranz in Apollo 13. That aside, there isn’t much in terms of in-film references to please the fanboy contingent which I think has stuck in the craw of some of that ilk.

From a scientific standpoint, Cuaron has said that some liberties were taken with science in order to advance the story – one of the most egregious of these is that the journey from the Hubble to the ISS was not possible with the equipment shown in the film simply because of the distance involved. Simply put, if this had happened for real (and some scientists have warned that it potentially could), the chances are that the astronauts would perish right then and there. That would have made for a depressing film and wasn’t the story that Cuaron wanted to tell. Once again, this isn’t about the effects – it’s about the human beings inside them. From that standpoint, it’s a marvelous film. Whatever your feelings about the space program – gigantic boondoggle or absolute necessity – you will be blown away by the special effects but more importantly you will be moved by the human story, a rare achievement. This is one of the best films of the year.

REASONS TO GO: Phenomenal special effects. Tense, edge-of-your-seat throughout. Bravura performance by Bullock.

REASONS TO STAY: One or two nitpicks.

FAMILY VALUES: There are a few images that are pretty rough and a bit of foul language.

TRIVIAL PURSUIT: The length of the movie at 90 minutes is exactly the time it takes for the actual International Space Station to make one complete orbit of the Earth.

CRITICAL MASS: As of 10/10/13: Rotten Tomatoes: 97% positive reviews. Metacritic: 96/100

COMPARISON SHOPPING: Marooned

FINAL RATING: 10/10

NEXT: The Tigger Movie