Turbo Kid

'Turbo Kid' movie poster

Release: Friday, August 28, 2015 (limited)

[Netflix]

Written by: François Simard; Anouk Whissell; Yoann-Karl Whissell

Directed by: François Simard; Anouk Whissell; Yoann-Karl Whissell

Nostalgia will wash over ’80s kids in waves in this hugely enjoyable and hyper-violent action-comedy that takes place post-apocalypse and on a brilliantly reimagined scorch of land that resembles more an alien world than our once luscious planet Earth. This is ‘The Wasteland,’ a desperately arid place where humanity clings to the fraying edges, brutally suppressed by a vicious overlord who converts human blood to drinkable water. (Yeah, I know — ew.)

Turbo Kid, a hybrid of Mad Max and RoboCop (sharing the former’s flare for awesome Halloween costumes and the latter’s penchant for extreme violence), chronicles the adventures of a young survivor simply referred to as ‘The Kid’ (Munro Chambers) after he meets an eccentric, ice-blue-eyed girl named Apple (Laurence Leboeuf). The Kid is something of a comic book geek but his favorite is Turbo Rider, a superhero with a nifty Iron Man-esque weapon on his wrist.

Surviving on his own in his underground shelter having been made an orphan by the terrible Zeus (Michael Ironside) who became enraged having learned his parents were “stealing” water, The Kid is surprisingly resourceful, constantly scavenging for nicknacks he hopes to trade in for more useful items (like comics and bottled water . . . again, ew). He tries to avoid other people as often as possible, and knows the dangerous areas of The Wasteland and has even mapped out the vicinity in a notebook with crayon. Besides the comics, his most prized possession is his old BMX bike.

When his new friend is kidnapped by Skeletron, one of Zeus’ henchmen — a mask-wearing psycho straight out of Bartertown — The Kid finds himself transforming into the very action hero he’s looked up to all his life as he sets his sights on freeing the girl and ridding The Wasteland of its tyrannical water-hording ruler. But he’ll have to go through an army of Zeus’ bike-riding thugs (seriously, biking is the way of the future) to do so. Dig out your wet weather gear, kids; it’s about to start raining body parts.

Revenge plot is both refreshingly simple and emotionally gratifying. The straightforward approach affords the trio of writer-directors more time to play around with characters and relationships. The youthful Chambers and Leboeuf give Turbo Kid a real, pulsating heart. Apple may be the more intriguing presence — crazy face masks and human-blood-as-drinking-water notwithstanding she might be the most intriguing element, period. But she also benefits from the efforts of her co-star, who imbues The Kid with a sense of innocence and innate goodness that’s difficult not to be won over by.

They share an easy chemistry that’s essential for us to buy into the dangers of this place and to actually care about the results of such balls-to-the-wall encounters, all of which culminate in a spectacularly gory climax. Turbo Kid is mostly reminiscent of earlier Mad Max installments with an early confrontation in a repurposed warehouse serving as a flashback to Mel Gibson’s trespassing into Tina Turner territory — I still maintain he should have had to sing for his life — while Ironside’s eye-patch-touting bastard is Hugh Keays-Byrne’s Toecutter reincarnated (or, okay, Immortan Joe with the whole hording of water thing).

Canadian electronica artist Le Matos amplifies the atmosphere ten fold with a soundtrack that positively aches with nostalgia for a bygone era of ultra-violent cinema. The music is a character unto itself, translating the unspoken sensations of finding hope and friendship amidst endless desolation. It’s brilliantly retro and fits the scene in ways thousands of well-judged soundtracks have failed to.

Turbo Kid is a gleeful throwback to action hero flicks of the ’80s and even though not every element is created equal — supporting characters are quite forgettable if we’re not talking about Zeus or Skeletron — they all contribute in some minor way to a production that knows exactly what it wants to be and then becomes just that.

Screen Shot 2016-02-17 at 5.53.01 PM

Recommendation: Production values, quirky characters and a memorable soundtrack converge in this giddy and occasionally squirm-inducing action flick. As ridiculously violent as it is funny, Turbo Kid is a contemporary production that feels as though it has just recently been released from development hell after 30 years of suffering. But that’s not the case. It came out only last year. Amazing. 

Rated: NR

Running Time: 93 mins.

Quoted: “Eyes, throat, genitals!”

All content originally published and the reproduction elsewhere without the expressed written consent of the blog owner is prohibited.

Photo credits: http://www.impawards.com; http://www.imdb.com

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23 thoughts on “Turbo Kid

    • I haven’t seen the guy in NEARLY enough things my friend. Shame on me. That said every time I do see him I’m like, ‘who is that guy?’ I look him up later and that name always strikes me as epic. Suitable, then, that he turns in an epically cheesy performance in this. Oh man, it’s great. This whole package is great.

    • Ha! Thats really funny he does look really similar. It’s produced as if it were released in 1985; the ‘future’ in this film is set as 1997. Love it. So much fun.

    • Oh yeah man, even considering that I was e-hem . . . born in ’86, can’t really call myself a child of the ’80s (though technically yes, I was a child in ’87, ’88, and ’89 but my balls hadn’t dropped of course) . . . this movie spoke to me. It was so much fun. In the way that The Guest was cheesy, gory, old-fashioned good fun. Glad I decided to sit down with it.

  1. I came here because, well, obviously I will read it, but because, like yesterday, one of your tags was wow. And yesterday’s wow was one slice, today’s wow was seven slices. Gotta love it! This totally looks like it is worth checking out!

    • Haha! That’s an awesome way to find my reviews through the random tags I use. I am considering stopping doing that since it’s just extra work but hey, if they’re actually being effective maybe I shouldn’t! 😀

      Oh man, Turbo Kid is so ridiculously fun. It could use some work in certain areas but this is a pretty nifty little film that I think has flown under a lot of people’s radars. Check it out sometime.

    • This movie was fantastic. Ryan, I’m pretty sure you and your site is becoming increasingly responsible for the content that appears here! This one I remember seeing you previewing (as was a few others of late, like House on Pine Street) — and tonight I’m seeing The Witch and absolutely cannot wait for that. It was your site I’m sure I first caught wind of that too. Good stuff.

      • So happy to hear that, man! That was always the point of my little blog—to spread the word on some cool looking genre stuff. I’m driving 3 hours to see The Witch (sadly, that’s the nearest theater to me) and I can not wait! Hopefully it lives up to the hype and can’t wait to hear your thoughts on it!

        • You’ve done a good job then. 🙂 I’m about to start working on it. It’s pretty fucking uncomfortable to watch dude!

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