Turbo Kid, 2015.
Written and directed by François Simard, Anouk Whissell and Yoann-Karl Whissell.
Starring Munro Chambers, Laurence Leboeuf, Michael Ironside, Edwin Wright, Aaron Jeffery, Romano Orzri and Orphée Ladouceur.
In a post-apocalyptic wasteland, a comic book fan dons the persona of his favourite hero to save his enthusiastic friend and fight a tyrannical overlord.
Some movies are concocted as love letters to a specific and often esoteric fanbase. Turbo Kid is one such example of that, except its genuine affection for the 90s runs as deep as the river of blood flowing from every gore-tastic kill found in the movie. To most the endeavor will come across as an amalgamation of Kick-Ass and Mad Max (which on its own is enough to make a point for how awesome this movie truly is) but it covers so much more ground than one would expect.
It’s to the point where Turbo Kid is a must-see film for anyone born in the 80s that grew up in the 90s, which makes sense considering that none of the three directors on board are a day over 30. These filmmakers grew up in that age and have crafted a smorgasbord of retro pop-culture homages and in-your-face references.
Turbo Kid is a movie that begins by showing the titular Kid scavenging around a futuristic 1997 wasteland while some awful inspirational power ballad rock music plays over the opening credits. Clearly it is unashamedly cheesy, but the B-movie tone makes for an irresistible charm leaving audiences grinning ear to ear throughout the duration of the film. Simply put, it’s like having your childhood snatched from the pits of nostalgia and put back on the big screen for one enormous celebratory circle-jerk.
Cringe worthy yet catchy upbeat rock music? Check. Legend of Zelda references? Check. Waterworld references? Check. Post apocalyptic clichés? Check. Comic-book references? Check. A crazy Australian guy churning out one-liners? Check. Ridiculous costumes that look like they were purchased at Party City for $2 a pop? Check. A feel-good love story centering on a nerdy outcast donning the outfit and weaponry of his favorite superhero to save Apple, his socially awkward hyperactive girlfriend? Check. Some henchman with a skeleton mask wearing American football attire? Check. Michael Ironside playing one of the most over-the-top villains imaginable with the old tried-and-true evil warlord controlling the water supply of the apocalypse routine? Check.
When you douse all of these elements into a gloriously violent bloodbath, well that just exponentially increases the awesomeness. The Kid actually has a power glove attachment which emits lasers that upon impact, cause people to combust into a downpour of guts. Continuing along with the evident love for video game culture, this overpowered wrist attachment feels like a special weapon when you factor in that it must recharge in between every five shots. There is also a scene where The Kid is trading in random junk to a vendor in exchange for comic books, which actually emulates that feeling of selling all of the useless shit you come across when playing a RPG. The writers even managed to find a way of working in a Bioshock nod that literally forced me to pause the VOD rental due to laughing uncontrollably from a mixture of pure disbelief that the joke came out and its sheer cleverness.
Enough about video games though, because behind the B-movie exterior is a surprisingly touching story with irresistibly charming characters. As mentioned, the movie is nothing more than the apocalyptic adventures of a boy and his girlfriend taking down a tyrannical wasteland ruler, but it’s impossible not to cheer on The Kid admirably fighting to reclaim his love, or witness his girlfriend Apple light up every scene with an overabundance of energy, a cute Anime reminiscent voice, and enthusiasm for chaos.
With all that said, Turbo Kid is ultimately aimed at a niche audience that grew up with 90s geek culture, probably watching unforgettably awful grindhouse films with buckets of blood, terrible acting, and a shoestring budget. The B-movie nature also might come on too strong as a few of the action sequences are staggeringly slow with enemies standing around doing nothing and attacking one at a time (possibly just a reference to the AI of Assassin’s Creed games), and it might rely on gore just a tad too much, but overall Turbo Kid is an electrifying blast from the past. Not everyone will see it that way, but anyone with an appreciation for 90s culture will have a permanent smile for 90 minutes.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Robert Kojder – An aficionado of film, wrestling, and gaming. Follow me on Twitter or friend me on Facebook