Search your mind and think back to about ten years ago and you might faintly remember the birth of the so-called “torture-porn” genre, a horror sub-genre largely made up the Hostel and Saw movies that took death and mutilation to a frankly pornographic level of, supposedly, enjoyment. Then, in 2007, a little-seen (and brilliant) action movie called Shoot ‘Em Up emerged, and instantly the sub-genre of “action-porn” was created. It never led to anything, in fact the genre never really spawned anything. But wait, here comes Bounty Killer to change that.
A short film that became a graphic novel which then became a movie, Bounty Killer depicts a dystopian future in which, following the corporate wars, a new breed of mercenaries track down former white collar criminals and execute them for a fee. Into this mix come a pair of bounty killing lovers turned professional rivals, who soon find themselves on the run from, well, everyone. Can our intrepid heroes (and out-of-his-depth sidekick) survive the ensuing carnage? Do you care so long as heads are severed, limbs are blasted off, and vehicles are detonated left, right and centre? Of course not. And sadly neither do the writers behind the film.
Befitting the “porn” in “action-porn”, Bounty Killer’s female lead – the sleazily alluring Christian Pitre – seems to play to the audience for exactly that. A PVC-clad vixen in a muscle car with a penchant for rapid-fire executions and foreplay-ridden dialogue, it’s easy to look at Pitre’s performance and assume that the film has a tongue-in-cheek sensibility that’s simply buried under the quick-fire editing and multitude of explosions. To cut a long story short, it doesn’t. Matthew Marsden does nothing to help matters either, as the film’s central character he fails somewhat spectacularly to hold your attention for any serious amount of time and instead comes across as the sort of pay-for-scale nobody doing his best stab at a Snake Plissken impersonation. Between Pitre and Marsden, the film is so eye-wateringly pathetic in it’s ham-fisted attempt to engage fifteen-year-old boys that by the time nerd-fodder Kristanna Loken and the always nuts Gary Busey turn up, it’s a chore just to even attempt to care.
The film’s not completely without merit, Saine’s direction maintains a gleefully pulp sensibility and the final action sequence (although derivative of a similar sequence in last year’s The Cabin In The Woods) is, without doubt, the unrivalled highlight; but it’s all drops in the ocean. Like all good pornography, this piece of “action-porn” isn’t worth than a few minutes of your time before you, frankly, have no further use for it.
Catch Van Connor’s reviews in our Movies section and live on Slam Dunk Cinema every Saturday at 12PM on Sheffield Live! 93.2FM or on the podcast via iTunes.
Matthew Marsden, Christian Pitre, Kristanna Loken