“THE BAD BATCH” is written and directed by Ana Lily Amirpour and stars; Suki Waterhouse, Jason Momoa, and Jayda Fink. With smaller performances from Diego Luna, Keanu Reeves, and Giovanni Ribisi. This story takes place in a future dystonian setting where those who are not deemed as good citizens are considered to be among the ‘bad batch’ and thus are sent to a desert wasteland in Texas to live among themselves.
This was an intriguing film to me. The budget was small, the cast showed more than enough potential, and the settings of the story were very intriguing. The trailer gave glimpses of an eclectic, semi post-apocalyptic style setting, and unique character types. There were also some flashes of strong artistic story-telling and film creation, so there was no doubt my curiosity was peaked.
Now this was not a bad film but it was lacking some elements that in the end prevented it from being a great film despite the potential to be one. The settings and the foundation of the script were fascinating. People on the wrong side of the law, or simply not welcome in society, were sent out to the barren Texas countryside to live among themselves in sort of a “Mad Max: Road Warrior” civilization. Food was at a minimum thus cannibalism comes into play.
These elements were all very interesting. It was intriguing to see the society that was created in the landscape the ‘bad batch’ called home. The story starts out very compelling. This young woman is sent out into the desert and it isn’t long before the rebellious young woman discovers how grim her new surroundings can be. In no time at all she finds herself in unthinkable situations and the decision to give up or fight for survival was engaging to sit back and watch. Watching the character of Arlen played by Waterhouse, adjust to this new world was enjoyable throughout the first-act and was shaping up to weave a riveting narrative.
The performances were all very good. Suki Waterhouse was excellent in the lead. The script relies on a lot of physical acting to progress itself as opposed to heavy amounts of dialogue but with Waterhouse’s performance you can feel the true intentions of the story-line. She conveys the right emotions at the right time and she provides the overall film a lot of character substance that the writing did not.
Jason Momoa was very good as well. He was his usual ominous and intimidating self and served this role all it needed despite having minimal dialogue as well. He felt natural in the settings of the story, there wasn’t much backdrop to his character but with his tattoo’s and the overall styling of his character, there is more than enough to surmise some of his past actions. Young Jayda Fink was also excellent with her performance. A young performer can make or break a role sometimes and in this one Fink conveys a strong character that the plot can revolve around.
There were also some fun smaller performances from some familiar faces. Keanu Reeves comes in as this eccentric leader that runs a community called ‘Comfort.’ He appears to be doing good, no one could say he was doing harm, but he was clearly manipulating the situation and Reeve’s portrayed this very effectively. Jim Carrey was also awesome with this unique portrayal of a drifter that wonders the countryside. He doesn’t have a spoken line but still manages to steal the screen with each of his scenes and in a subtle way, he brings the film its best performance as far as pure acting. Giovanni Ribisi was a nice addition as well. He didn’t have any impact on the story but he delivers a collection of wildly odd scenes that show some fun charisma.
This was a beautifully shot film. Amirpour crafts a vibrant, eccentric, and highly artistic movie that does show some ambition in creating something unique. It relies on a lot of silent imagery and with a great selection of landscapes and settings, added with perfect lighting choices, and a bold use of color, the result was a visually stunning movie for the genre. The musical score was a little quirky and it was a perfect choice for the tone and setting of the film. The choices were unconventional but they blended extremely well with the look and vibe of the entire film and did add some emotion to the story at times.
But despite the things this film did well. The story-line was honestly lacking in some impact. The setting the script was placed in turned out to be much more intriguing than the honestly simple plot-line the movie follows. It was not a bad story, but a bland one that did not feel like it matched the same levels of creativity the other elements of the movie thrived on. It was a slow-paced film and methodical at times but it also felt slow, and for a bulk of the second-act showed little progression.
Watching, you can sense the story-arcs and where they may eventually go but they never really do. Other than a simple story-arc the script doesn’t explore much else. The third-act was a little anti-climactic and that doesn’t mean a big bold ending is needed. But in my opinion the intended emotional connection to the story felt a little flat through its delivery. There was a constant, but subtle foreboding sense of something to come but it never truly evolved like it could have.
Overall though, this was not a bad movie. It was a creative one from a film-making aspect but it was overly simple on the writing side. It does create an offbeat collection of characters but while it does provide some enjoyable moments here and there, in the end it did leave me feeling mildly unfulfilled given it had a near two-hour run-time to work with.
Time: 1 hr 58 min
Rating: R (For violence, language, some drug content and brief nudity)