Turbo Kid


Reviewed by: Luke Shaw

Turbo Kid
"A preposterously gory exercise in nostalgia." | Photo: J P Bernier

The iron grip that Eighties nostalgia has over the lives of many writers and directors is probably worth a thorough examination. We’re 30 years on now, and it remains a go to for many budding directors, presumably because the hammy acting and the clunky over the top action seems like an easy goal. Turbo Kid follows in this tradition by being a preposterously gory exercise in nostalgia, underpinned by brooding synths that the less discerning ear would mistake for Carpenter’s.

Humanity has all but died out after an apocalypse, and water is getting scarcer. People get around on BMX bikes and pay no heed to how ridiculous this makes them look, and it lends the whole thing a vibe of just being the fevered imaginations of a pubescent troublemaker. Which is something we don’t have to look far for, in lone survivor The Kid (Munro Chambers), living on the fringes of the wasteland and collecting scrap to trade for water, and the kitschy Turbo Man comics he loves.

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It isn’t long before he stumbles upon the deliriously hyperactive Apple (Laurence Lebouef), an incredibly naive wanderer who seems oblivious to the decay of the world, only concerned with making friends. The action kicks off when their blossoming friendship is cut short by her abduction, and The Kid finds a real life Turbo Blaster (taking the form of a Nintendo Powerglove) that can fire bolts of energy that reduce people to impressionist splats of blood, and sets on his path to becoming Turbo Kid.

Altercations between Kid, Apple, an Oz Cowboy and the eye-patched antagonist Zeus - played by an appropriately gruff Michael Ironside - make up the rest of the film, and it’s here that the Eighties aesthetic is best put to use. There’s an inventive and amusing array of ludicrously depicted decapitations and disemboweling on display, and they’re the crux of the laughs on offer. A lot of love and care has gone into coming up with ways to tear apart the various denizens of the wasteland, and most of them are adorned in pop-culture detritus that’ll have you filling out a bingo sheet of character nods from the villain of Conan to one of Carpenter's Big Trouble samurai.

Sadly, the same level of attention can’t be claimed of the script or the direction. Both are stilted affairs, the editing giving shots too much space either side of action or dialogue which feels like a misguided attempt to replicate the sense of hokum in an Eighties blockbuster. Coupled with a low budget and a lot of flat, empty lighting, it chips the chrome finish that a film with this amount of reverence to Eighties cheese desperately needs.

Reviewed on: 20 Jun 2015
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In a post-Apocalyptic wasteland, a scavenger trades scraps for food and comics, until a new friendship and a new weapon change his life.

Director: François Simard, Anouk Whissell, Yoann-Karl Whissell

Writer: François Simard, Anouk Whissell, Yoann-Karl Whissell

Starring: Munro Chambers, Michael Ironside, Romano Orzari, Laurence Leboeuf, Aaron Jeffery, Patrick Kerton, Edwin Wright, Marcello Bezina, Jean-François Ferland, Evan Manoukian, Maxime Lapointe

Year: 2015

Runtime: 90 minutes

Country: New Zealand, Canada

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