The Bad Batch: Inconsistently Great - Spoilers
The Bad Batch was written and directed by Ana Lily Amirpour who had a certain level of critical success with her debut feature A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night. Her follow up has not been met with the same positive reviews but it had flashes of brilliant filmmaking that shows her potential to be an excellent writer/director.
The Bad Batch is set in Texas in a near future dystopian society in which undesirable people are exiled into a desert wasteland. They are called the bad batch. This is a harsh world with few rules as our main protagonist Arlen (Suki Waterhouse) quickly learns. She's captured by a group of cannibals, tied up, and has her arm and leg sawed off. She escapes in a disgusting and ingenious way that captures the desperation of her predicament.
As she's escaping she's found by an old wandering hermit played by Jim Carrey. He takes her to a town called Comfort where 5 months pass. She wanders into the desert looking for any from the town of cannibals looking to exact some revenge. She meets Maria(Yolonda Ross) and Honey (Jayda Fink), partner of Miami Man (Jason Momoa). Arlen kills the woman and taken the child with her back to Comfort.
Maimi Man sets out to find his partner and daughter. When he finds his partner with a bullet in her head, the hermit is there and directs him to the town of Comfort. Before you get excited thinking Jason Momoa is going on a revenge rampage, it just is not that kind of movie. Arlen loses Honey, Miami Man's daughter, during an acid trip. The Dream (Keanu Reeves), quite a name, is the leader of Comfort. He finds the young Honey and takes her back to his secure mansion.
This is where our two main characters finally meet. Miami Man finds Arlen in the desert and in an odd way ends up saving her life. There is some odd dialogue free scenes developing their easy to predict romantic interest before Arlen is "saved" by a man from Comfort. Feeling a connection to Miami Man and Honey from the time spent with her Arlen infiltrates The Dream's house (his name makes more sense when you watch the movie) tin order to save the child. After saving the child, she finds Miami Man in the desert and the three share a meal in the desert.
The movie had some truly great moments of filmmaking but there was a little too many atmospheric long shots. I am not against the ominous music while Arlen wanders through the desert but when it is 3 of those scenes in row my eyes and thoughts started to wander to other things while waiting for the story to continue. When there was more than one character in a scene they did a great job in telling the story with minimal dialogue.
The score had some GREAT moments as well. The use of 80's style heavy synth dramatic music threw in some powerful emotions. Unfortunately like the rest of the things I loved, this was another inconsistent aspect of the film.
Ultimately, I loved the characters, the setting, the music and the story. Some of the execution was inconsistent which left me wanting more of the things they did well. They could have shaved off 15 minutes and not lost anything. All in all, I would say it's another successful independent film for Ana Lily Amirpour who will be a director I watch out for. Definitely worth the watch if you have a long attention span.