By: Mark Barber
The post-apocalyptic Canadian film Turbo Kid has only one audience in mind: kids who grew up on Power Rangers. Yet the film is too gruesome and violent for kids, and too vacuous for anyone else.
Set in a desolate post-apocalyptic world, an unnamed kid (Degrassi’s Munro Chambers; character simply billed as “The Kid”) finds a suit that formerly belonged to the comic book/real life superhero character Turbo Man (unrelated to a similar character in Jingle All the Way), whom the kid idolizes. The Kid reluctantly dons the weaponized suit to take on Zeus (a scenery-chewing Michael Ironside, a familiar face from 90s action cinema), a warlord who kills people to harvest the water from their bodies.
The absurdity of the plot is remarkable, if overly convoluted. Turbo Kid frequently overlooks the odd complexity of its narrative (for instance, the back story of Turbo Man and why he is simultaneously a real person/comic book character could use a bit of exploration) to focus on its cartoonish and excessive violence. Comically graphic, the three directors of the film (François Simard, Anouk Whissell, and Yoann-Karl Whissell) are pre-occupied with violence. Gratuitously violent scenes occur frequently to the point of tedium. However, some of the scenes deserve credit for their elaborate set-up (one scene involves a man’s intestinal tract being removed by riding a bicycle).
Turbo Kid overreaches with its postmodern pastiche of 80s and 90s childhood media. As a result, it has very little to say about anything. The three directors (who also wrote the film) confuse pop culture references to late-twentieth century action and sci-fi films with meaningful discourse on fandom and popular culture. Even its own devotion to childhood nostalgia isn’t really expanded on or explored.
Turbo Kid shows some creative spirit with its excess of violence, but has little value otherwise. Those seeking a more violent version of their favourite childhood show might find something entertaining here, if nothing else.
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Mark Barber: @WorstCinephile