Film Review: The Bad Batch

The Bad Batch is a fascinating, quirky, original and, at times, darkly humorous film that is slightly bogged down by a narrative that takes a little too much time to get going in places.

The Bad Batch, the people cast out of American society and confined to a desert wasteland somewhere in Texas, are an odd bunch to say the least, but that’s a good thing because they make the movie much more enjoyable than it would’ve been with “normal” folks. Even the main character, Arlen (Suki Waterhouse) seems a little off in a weird way, but that might be due to her experience during the intense opening of the movie. Speaking of the opening, I feel like I should warn you about how exceptionally brutal it is. I’ve seen my fair share of violent films, but The Bad Batch managed to catch me off guard with its intensity to the point where my jaw dropped.

The Bad Batch definitely won’t be everyone’s kind of movie, and I can imagine quite a few people leaving the theater within the first ten minutes, but I strongly urge powering through it if you can. It’s violent, unsettling and barbaric, but it’s also a great bit of world building by director Ana Lily Amirpour. Virtually everyone in this wasteland is here for a reason, and the opening makes sure to instill that feeling quite effectively. While The Bad Batch isn’t non-stop savagery, in fact the action takes a backseat to the story for the majority of the movie, it’ll easily shock some moviegoers.

The Bad Batch does take a little too long to figure out where its story is going, however, I was totally engaged outside a couple slow spots. Most of the movie is great, but it probably could’ve lost ten or fifteen minutes of the characters slowly making their way through certain areas. That’s my only real complaint about The Bad Batch, and I really enjoyed it despite that. I’d try to delve further into the plot, but it would be too difficult to avoid spoilers.

In addition to Suki Waterhouse’s Arlen, we get to enjoy other oddities like Miami Man (Jason Momoa), Bobby (Giovanni Ribisi), and The Dream (Keanu Reeves). While Arlen and Miami Man get the most the screen time, Bobby and The Dream were more than able to leave an impact with the time they have. There’s also one universally recognizable actor (one of my childhood favorites!) that isn’t heavily advertised in the trailers. I won’t spoil it by giving out his name, but he’s one of the coolest characters in the movie, and by far the funniest.

Miami Man is a man of few words (and considering how most of the cast doesn’t speak often, that’s saying something), but the way he carries himself is legitimately scary and almost heartless at times, while caring and sympathetic in others. The lines Miami Man has are some of the most meaningful in The Bad Batch, but they really are few and far in between. While it’s definitely nothing new or surprising that Jason Momoa can play a badass character so well, he’s still a lot of fun to watch here.

Bobby has a bunch of interesting contradictions surrounding him. As a man who clearly isn’t all together, he’s somehow managed to survive in the wasteland, a place that I wouldn’t think anyone like him could. He’s quite an odd mix of intrigue, sadness and comedy. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed Ribisi in every movie/show I’ve seen him in and The Bad Batch is no different.

Keanu Reeve’s The Dream is probably my favorite part of the film (along with the mystery actor) because he has these little moments where he almost seems relatively normal, but you can still tell he’s actually just as out there as everyone else. I hope Reeves continues acting in films like The Bad Batch because he can add so much class to characters like The Dream, while also making them super creepy at the same time.

While I can’t recommend it to those without a fairly high tolerance for violence,The Bad Batch is worth a watch for those who can stand its harshness. It’s an interesting look at what life could be like if we didn’t have laws or people keeping us in line, and it’s all made even more enjoyable by the intriguing characters and some terrific acting.

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