Director: François Simard, Anouk Whissell and Yoann-Karl Whissel
Starring: Munro Chambers, Laurence Leboeuf, Michael Ironside, Edwin Wright, Aaron Jeffery and Romano Orzar
Release Date: 08/28/15
Some call it a guilty pleasure while others, like myself, wholeheartedly defend the action, science fiction, and horror films of the 1980’s. The heroes were larger than life, the science fiction combined numerous genres, and the horror films relied on practical special effects. Looking back at those films it’s easy to identify the recognizable aesthetic pieces; the music, the costume, the composition of the action scenes; you can feel the 80’s permeate every frame. “Turbo Kid”, from the directing team of François Simard, Anouk Whissell and Yoann-Karl Whissel, is an homage to all the era specific qualities you’d see from a science fiction, action, and horror film combined into one. The fact that this film gets nearly everything in tune with the 1980’s is remarkable; the fact that it is also has an earnest and humorous story is an unexpected plus.
The year is 1997 and the world has crumbled. The Kid (Munro Chambers) rides around the dystopian wasteland on his BMX bike, looking for remnants of the past but also for the precious commodity of water. The Kid meets a wayward and strange girl named Apple (Laurence Laboeuf) who begins to follow and journey around with him. The water is controlled by a tyrant named Zeus (Michael Ironside) who, along with his henchmen, brutally murders anyone who gets in the way of his quest for power. The Kid, while being chased, discovers the costume and high tech weaponry of his favorite comic book hero Turbo Rider; the suit gives The Kid special powers to fight back against Zeus.
“Turbo Kid” feels like “Road Warrior” with BMX bikes, it’s a stylistic endeavor filled with touches from the past but also subtle references to the films that the audience knows are being imitated. But even when elements are being satirized so precisely, like the over-the-top gore, 80’s synth rock soundtrack perfectly emulated by composer Le Matos, and deliberate filmmaking style that pulls and pushes with attention grabbing ferocity, there are also some nicely composed moments that separate this science fiction environment from others like it. The vast emptiness of the landscape is accomplished by a combination of photography styles, the chase scenes are comically rendered with bikes instead of flying vehicles or speeding cars, and the gore, wow the gore, is drenching by the buckets full. These little differences help keep “Turbo Kid” exciting instead of becoming derivative by resorting to repeated efforts of the style it is mimicking.
The narrative is filled with a consistent comedic tone, from situational humor, to a character that spouts intentionally verbose speeches, to cheesy one-liners, it’s laugh-out-loud funny at times. Unexpectedly there is also a pleasant charm that comes from the friendship between The Kid, who is a bit of a loner, and Apple, who is looking for a friend. They need each other more than they know. In a film that functions as a tribute, having this little character piece allows the viewer to invest more intently with the film.
It’s easy to say that this isn’t a film for everyone. The design feels low budget at times, the CGI can come off a little sloppy, and the gore will turn many away at first sight. Still, once "Turbo Kid" utilized a “Soylent Green” reference the smile never left my face for the remainder of the film. It’s pure fun, constantly energetic, and completely nostalgic, and if that’s not enough for you, Michael Ironside plays a villain named Zeus!!! That last line alone would have brought me to the theater.
4.00 out of 5.00