Bounty Killer is a movie looking for a certain audience, content with reveling in its B-movie aesthetic and cheesy action. It is an audacious, wild homage to movies such as Mad Max and Death Race 2000. Bounty Killer works better than it should thanks to the delightful charisma of its star character, Mary Death. An over-the-top send-up of post-apocalyptic movies from the 1970s, Bounty Killer is a wild ride with consistent helpings of violence and sexy fun.
Bounty Killer is set in a desolate 2042, after civilization has been laid waste by wars. In this future, corporations replaced the government and ended up in total war with each other, turning civilization into a Mad Max-like wasteland. White-collar criminals from the remaining corporations are hunted down and killed by bounty killers, the rockstars of this broken society. You really can’t think too hard about the backstory and setup. Bounty Killer could have turned the plot into an anti-corporate diatribe, but largely glosses over the anti-business message for cheesy dialogue and zany action. This is not a political movie in any real way, instead preferring to tell an entertaining story.
The stars of this plot are two famous bounty killers, Drifter (Matthew Marsden) and Mary Death (Christian Pitre). Mary Death is a huge celebrity, chasing down and killing criminals in a classic ’70s car with big guns and a retro-costume. She might as well have walked out of a Roger Corman movie of the period. Drifter was the first bounty hunter and problems quickly arise when a “death warrant” is placed on his head. The Council of Nine, the current ruling entity, has publicly revealed that Drifter was once a C.E.O. and should now be targeted for death. Despite their prior connection, Mary Death goes after Drifter for the bounty.
For an independent production, the film carries spectacular stunt sequences. Bounty Hunter comes loaded with daring action. A band of marauders known as the Gypsies chase Drifter and his buddy across the desert, as motorcycles and other vehicles chase a dilapidated van. The scene is a blatant swipe from the Mad Max franchise but Bounty Killer’s tongue-in-cheek approach allows the movie to get away with it.
Bounty Killer was adapted from the Kickstart graphic novel and that is ultimately what it ends up being, a live-action graphic novel. While the plot is fairly predictable and somewhat generic, the cast and stylish production have injected these characters with a certain amount of fun. The camera falls in love with Mary Death as she strikes a pose while killing a thug. This is Christian Pitre’s first role in a major film. She is a perfect casting for the character’s two-dimensional, larger-than-life personality. Mary Death is a comic book character brought to the big screen without the jaded realism of movies such as Batman Begins.
Bounty Killer nearly earns a perfect score for its picture quality, only missing out due to some questionable CGI and a video encode that inexplicably goes bad in a couple of scenes. The 92-minute main feature is presented in its native 2.40:1 aspect ratio at 1080P resolution. Encoded in AVC at an average video bitrate of 23.01 Mbps, a couple of scenes during the trip through “the Badlands” break into notable banding and posterization. It is only worth mentioning since the rest of the digital video is so immaculate and pristine, but the video bitrates drop to single digits in those moments, creating obvious problems.
Bounty Killer has been filmed using RED digital cameras, producing gorgeous clarity and detail in most of the tighter shots. Its rich black levels exhibit perfect contrast and intricate shadow delineation. The transfer has been struck from the movie’s Digital Intermediate, untouched by digital filtering. The high-frequency content is astounding, down to the level of visible pores and fine hair. The outstanding clarity rarely drops, even in darker scenes. Razor-sharp definition reveals the creative, retro production design.
The palette ranges a great deal over the course of the film, from yellow-tinted deserts to teal interiors. The colors are vibrant if a tad hot, infused with a consistent yellow hue. Its color timing sets the appropriate tone for the fun vibe of this post-apocalyptic shoot ’em up.
Bounty Killer is a movie built around chaotic set pieces and bold action. The provided 5.1 DTS-HD MA soundtrack gives away the low-budget origins of Bounty Killer. With the amount of explosions and gun violence, one expects a rocking mix replete with thunderous bass and bombastic sound design. But, this lossless soundtrack never fully pulls the trigger, lacking serious low-end extension. The surround channels are used more as an adjunct to the main action going on in the front, though bullets fly across the soundfield. This is a serviceable mix that could have made for better demo potential with a little more creativity.
English SDH display in a white font, completely within the 2.40:1 aspect ratio.
Arc Entertainment has included a couple of special features, most notably a featurette detailing the film’s origin in on-set interviews with some of the cast and crew. An exclusive version at Walmart also includes a DVD, VUDU digital copy and slipcover, all absent from the normal retail version. A commentary by the director might have proved invaluable.
Behind The Scenes (15:12 in HD) – Bounty Killer first began life as an animated feature and live-action short. Originally adapted from a graphic novel, director Henry Saine relates where the film’s ideas came from and his familial relationship with its writer, Jason Dodson. Actor Abraham Benrubi is all over this featurette, a bit strange considering his part is not that large. He does articulate well the zeitgeist in which Bounty Killer operates. Stars Matthew Marsden and Christian Pitre participate in brief answers.
Trailer (01:28 in HD)
Arc Entertainment Trailers (05:41 in HD) – The following trailers precede the main menu: Sweetwater, Big Sur, Vehicle 19.
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