A global war between the worlds largest corporations has turned the earth into a wasteland. Out of the ashes emerges the Council of Nine to restore the social order. They also put bounties on the heads of all fugitive corporate criminals. Bounty hunters thrive, and some are the new celebrities in what is left of society. Two of them, Drifter and Mary Death share a mysterious love-hate relationship. When Drifter finds out that there is also a bounty on his head, he seeks out the Council to redeem himself. The only things that stand between him and his absolution are the gang of cannibalistic Gypsies, the corporate hitmen squad The Yellow Ties, deadly desert storms and Mary Death herself.
Funded by a Kickstarter campaign, Bounty Killer is based on a comic book (also funded by Kickstarter) and a short movie with the same name that was made by director Henry Saine two years earlier. The premise of the movie is the apocalypse that was brought about by evil and greedy corporations. This setup for a satire is abandoned quickly after the first few minutes, and only re-surfaces in the final showdown at the end of the movie. And as the movie progresses it becomes clear that it’s only ambition is to provide as much spectacle and light-hearted entertainment as can be packed into 90 minutes. And it delivers. Bounty Killer borrows almost all its tropes from the vast pool of postapocalyptic and exploitation movies of the last decades (Mad Max and Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! come to mind for the unavoidable name-dropping and comparisons), and is not ashamed to do it.
The story is simple, but told in a straighforward and clear manner. The satire on Corporate America never really takes off, but it serves as an interesting starting point for the mayhem that follows. There’s plenty of shootouts and car action, plus an elevated amount of blood and gore, as people are getting mutilated in various creative ways throughout the movie. Despite these outbursts of extreme violence, the movie maintains a fairly light-hearted and upbeat tone (if you don’t mind the extreme violence). The scenes are put together in a very colourful and playful way, and the inserted drawn sequences add to the comic-book like look of the movie.
The humor ranges from very tongue-in-cheek to outright juvenile. Drifter hires Jack, who acts as his gun caddy, and whose only job is to hand him the appropiate weapon during shootouts. There is another silly but beautiful scene, where motorcycles are used to pull a trailer like horses pull a stagecoach, but it all works within the framework of the naive charm that is transcending the whole movie.
Gary Busey and Beverly D’Angelo have some decent cameos, but the involvement of some well-known actors past their zenith seems a bit unnecessary, as the movie does not need a celebrity bonus to work. Kudos go to Kristanna Loken, though, who plays the evil CEO in a subtly lunatic way. Cinematography and special effects look very professional, with the budget restraints shining through only occasionally. Action scenes are well choreographed, and the sets are carefully crafted with a lot of attention to details. It’s unfortunate that Henry Saine has not directed another movie since then.
Bounty Hunter provides 90 minutes of pure escapism and spectacle. What it lacks in budget and originality, it makes up with high-adrenaline action and silly humor. It certainly may not appeal to everyone, the lower instincts should be readied before watching it. But when they are, one may conclude: It’s funny, it’s violent, it’s sexy, go watch it!