The Bad Batch (2016)

One thing I have hard time believing is that, at the first moment things go wrong, humans will start consuming each other.  Many apocalyptic and wasteland stories have this, from The Walking Dead to Fallout to Delicatessen.  As soon as things fall apart it seems that everyone can't wait to turn their neighbor into sausage.  

Movies where more thought goes into it, like Mad Max: Fury Road, treat it as the abomination it is.  It has a character called the People Eater, which means that, whether he actually has eaten anybody, some rumor at least was started and he got that name.  It's not a name that a society routinely practicing cannibalism would bother calling someone.  There are plenty of examples down through the years of cannibalism only happening in cases of extreme survival, and most of the time the people they ate had already died of starvation.  It's not the go-to plan for the majority of humans despite some old racist caricatures.  

I bring all this up because The Bad Batch hits that trope right off.  Despite the fact that there is a town (albeit led by a cult leader and his gun-toting wives) where the exiles from society live quite normally despite the situation they are in, there are what are called "Bridge People" in this scenario who grab new exiles and start lopping off parts to put on the grill.  Keep in mind that this is supposed to be a desert area in what used to be Texas, where despite the difficulties people have been able to live for thousands of years before Europeans showed up, and even when we did we didn't start snacking on each other.  It's just one more unnecessarily stupid moment in a movie that, though pretty to look at, is just full of stupid scenes that eventually add up to nothing.

Arlen (Suki Waterhouse) is branded part of the "Bad Batch", tattooed and sent to fend for herself in the desert for some unnamed crime - which, as far as I can tell, can be anything from doing drugs to being Mexican.  Whatever the situation she soon finds herself on the menu, but manages to escape and is rescued by an old man (Jim Carrey) who wanders the desert collecting things.  She is brought to the town of Comfort, a renovated ghost town led by a cult leader (Keanu Reeves) and his many wives. 

Once recuperated Arlen goes looking for revenge and kills a random cannibal (Yolonda Ross) in front of her daughter (Jayda Fink).  She takes the daughter with her to Comfort, but her father (Jason Momoa) comes looking for her.  Despite her hatred for the cannibals Arlen doesn't feel she fits in at Comfort and soon finds herself torn concerning what her future should be.

When I talk about a movie with Keanu Reeves as a cult leader surrounded by pregnant women with Uzis, I should be talking about one of the greatest things I have ever seen.  Instead, though it's a decent idea, it is one more thing that goes nowhere.  The Bad Batch could describe whatever sort of LSD or Ecstacy that director and writer Ana Lily Amirpour was on when she came up with this, as it meanders like someone explaining politics or science while high and I find myself caring as much as I would in that type of situation.  Things do happen but, in the end, nothing happens.  There is no character development at all and no one to even root for.  The moment Arlen opens her mouth it is clear that, despite her clever way of getting away from the cannibals, she is about as smart as a wet napkin.

The Bad Batch did remind me of a series of Robert A. Heinlein books about a theocratic United States that exiled anyone who didn't fit into their society into a "wild land" consisting of a large part of what is now the northwestern portion of the country.  I kept hoping that there would be some sort of organized resistance that would arise, or at least anything to alleviate the boredom as this movie went on, but again, and I emphasize, nothing happens.  It is rare that I would shut a movie off part way into it and, if this hadn't been meant for a review, I would have done so.  There is really no reason for this to exist at all. 

The Bad Batch (2016)
Time: 118 minutes
Starring: Suki Waterhouse, Jason Momoa, Jayda Fink
Director: Ana Lily Amirpour



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