turbo_kid_1Year: 2015
Director:Francois Simard, Anouk and Yoann-Karl Whissell
Writer(s): Francois Simard, Anouk and Yoann-Karl Whissell
Region of Origin: Canada, NZ
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Rating: Unrated
Digital, Color, 93 mins

Synopsis: Boy meets girl and they team up with a cowboy to save the post-apocalyptic Wasteland from an evil dictator. 

There’s no simpler way to put it, Turbo Kid is your 90s childhood fantasies come to life in one, unabashedly nerdy movie – and I say that with nothing but love. Billed as Mad Max with BMX bikes, the film leaves nothing untouched, from video game culture, comic books, superheroes and every cool thing in movies ever. A colorful post-apocalyptic pastiche that comes from a sincere place, the film is equal parts sweet, funny, endearing, but also savagely gruesome and gory, with the most ridiculous collection of death scenes this side of Riki-Oh. You can come for the absurdity and ultra-violence, but you’ll be swayed by the nostalgia and heart at the same time. Directors Francois Simard with Anouk and Yoann-Karl Whissell have created a surefire, midnight movie fantasia that evokes the joy of cinema itself.

The Kid (Munro Chambers) is an orphan living in an alternate post-apocalyptic 90s. Everyone rides bikes in this bleak future and of course water is the most valuable resource, so The Kid scavenges to survive, trading paraphernalia for necessities and objects of a time gone by. His favorite relics are anything pertaining to a superhero named the Turbo Rider, decked out in an all-red BMX-style suit with a Mega Man type glove for a weapon. Then one day he meets a kooky-but-sweet girl named Apple (Laurence Leboeuf), who wants nothing more than to be his friend. Together with an arm wrestling cowboy named Frederic (Michael Ironside), the trio take on the local, one-eyed warlord Zeus in order to protect what’s left of the Wasteland.

As you can guess, the film gleefully packs in as much as it can, coming of age adventure, extremely bizarro romance and superhero origin story, but it all works thanks to the sincerity and ingenuity behind it all. It isn’t hard to pick apart the influences, but directors Simard and the Whissell’s put their own stamp on everything, not just regurgitating, but adding a perverse humor and excitement to transcend empty winking. Like the recent Kung Fury, the film builds a believable world from the details up, never passing up an opportunity for a good laugh and replete with a mythology you want to learn more about. Adding to the lunacy, are some truly insane action sequences in which limbs, heads and guts literally fly across the screen in ways that’ll make you gag, laugh or even cry – I kid you not, the deaths in this thing are bound to become YouTube gold in years to come, and you haven’t seen anything like them.

turbo_kid_3Though the characters come from archetypes, the performances are what pull them through. As The Kid, Munro Chambers is the right type of wild-eyed audience surrogate, relating the vivid perspective of an emotionally stunted character trying to move on from his past trauma. The film isn’t that deep, but he gets us emotionally invested. His counterpart, Laurence Leboeuf as the manic, happy-go-lucky Apple is the film’s true gem. There’s an undeniable excitement when she’s around, and when she’s missing things just aren’t the same. Leboeuf takes what could’ve easily been an annoying character and makes us fall in love instantly. Between the two, there’s a really weird love story/friendship that sparks, and one of my few regrets is that the implications of this strange pairing doesn’t hold more weight. Given the true nature of Apple’s character (which I won’t disclose here), there’s a lot more that could’ve been done, but it still works in the end just because Leboeuf is incredible and makes the film worth a watch alone.

If there’s one thing that isn’t in short supply during Turbo Kid’s relentless runtime, it’s the amount of sheer crowd cheering moments. This is one of those films meant to be seen in a packed theatre of like-minded fans, and one of the very few that can cater to and deliver on the energy it perpetuates. It’s obviously not for everyone, and nowhere near prefect, but you definitely won’t regret a viewing if you’re into this sort of thing. Really though – bike stunts, razorblades, cool gear, cheeky robots and disintegrating bodies, that’s all right up my alley, and I can’t wait to see it again.

SG