Turbo Kid is well and truly a blast from the past, an exciting pastiche to the low-budget 80’s flicks we binged watched on VHS when we were seven. Though this picture is fraught with enough tropes to drive a film snob up the wall, I can’t help but deny it’s charming simplicity – an appropriate way to describe this movie would be a warm, worn blanket. It doesn’t break any new ground, but it wraps you up in it’s cosy familiarity.
The story takes place in the far-flung post-apocalyptic future of 1997, and our protagonist The Kid (played by Munro Chambers) scours the landscape for valuable supplies, like comic books of his idol superhero Turbo Rider, armed with a retro blaster and painted motorcycle helmet. Along the way he bumps into Apple (Laurence Leboeuf), an infectiously optimistic humanoid robot who accompanies him on his quest to defeat the villainous tyrant Zeus (played by a much older, much wider Michael Ironside).
The plot is simple, there’s no doubt about it, but it’s enough to keep the ball moving. The strength of the film comes from the characters, particularly The Kid and Apple, whose chemistry on screen is undeniably captivating. Their goofy back-and-forth helps the movie pop, especially when discussing how many ‘hearts’ Apple has before her power runs out (yes, it really is that goofy). Ironside plays Zeus perfectly, and his cheesy performance fits the tone of the movie, which has fun with the material and its characters. Though they are fairly one-note, I feel it’s enough to keep the audience interested.
Everyone in the film rides around on BMX bikes, and the filmmakers don’t shy away from some hilariously shot bike chases, complete with slow-motion three foot jumps. The fight scenes are where the movie comes into its own, and the hilarity goes through the roof. Gore is prevalent, very prevalent, and the filmmakers take full advantage as Turbo Kid explodes bad guys with his blaster in a ridiculous shower of blood. At one point, the top half and bottom half of a dead guy end up on the heads of two other henchmen, as our protagonists look on in bewilderment. And it’s glorious.
Everyone in the film rides around on BMX bikes, and the filmmakers don’t shy away from some hilariously shot bike chases, complete with slow-motion three foot jumps.
Additionally, the long-awaited kiss of the film is accompanied with an umbrella, to protect the characters from the endless shower of blood. Peter Jackson’s early material like Bad Taste is an unmistakable influence, where gore is taken to such an extreme that it becomes funny. The 80’s retro style is reinforced throughout the film by the soundtrack, and its synthwave sentiment is much appreciated, remedying the (at times) struggling pace of the movie, which does feel like a stretched short film at times.
However, it’s not enough to put me off the movie, and I still had an excellent ride. Turbo Kid is the goofy, younger brother of Mad Max: Fury Road, but deserves to be appreciated in its own right. If you like indie, low-budget movies which play up retro themes and designs, you must see this movie. Without nostalgia glasses, this movie might not work for general audiences, who won’t be able to appreciate what the movie is trying to do. Regardless, I’d recommend a watch.