There are many films and television shows as of late that seem to exist solely to cash in on properties or outdated film tropes that were popular in the 80’s. Footloose, Red Dawn, Robocop, Vacation, Road House and Big Trouble in Little China are just a few of the recent as well as upcoming theatrical remakes based on 80’s cult classics. The Canadian–New Zealand film Turbo Kid (2015) decides instead to pay homage to the 80’s while bringing its own unique story, so while the film references such classics as Terminator, Mad Max and Judge Dredd, the film also has a touching story of young love that perseveres in the face of overwhelming odds to survive.
The story follows a young boy known only as the Kid who is living day to day in a post-apocalyptic wasteland similar to Mad Max. He meets a young girl named Apple who decides to accompany him on his journey. The rest of the film centers on their travels as they try to survive in the barren wasteland against the evil warlord Zeus, played by Michael Ironside, and his posse of henchmen. This film delights in its influences without leaning too much on them. It has tons of comedy mostly visual and anyone who craves the feel of the ultra-violent films of the 80s should enjoy this film. Along with comedy the film also has a surprising amount of heart thanks to the touching interaction between the Kid and Apple.
Pacing: 8 out 10
Occasionally the film seemed to drag moments of respite away from the action a little too long but overall it didn’t seem to be a detriment. It was a good balance between playful banter and supremely violent action and torture scenes. Overall the film felt familiar right down to the pace as it gave each scene enough breathing room to shine without manically shifting between set pieces.
Acting: 7 out 10
Keep in mind the acting is meant to be schlocky. Whether it’s Michael Ironside with his overly evil persona Zeus, or the ever enthusiastic and light spirited Apple, all the actors put in exactly enough to sell each of their characters. No performance really stands out but great acting isn’t really a concern for a film of this nature.
Content: 9 out 10
For a simple premise the Film manages to stretch some mileage out of its setting. The barren wasteland makes for interesting world building opportunities and while it doesn’t have the depth of Mad Max, it still brings up some interesting ideas that might be shocking or hilarious. The Kid’s troubled past is brought up often when it’s revealed that Zeus was responsible for the death of Turbo Kid’s parents which adds some much-needed tension. Also because there’s no more gas we find the Kid being chased by Zeus’s henchmen all of which are riding bicycles. The action scenes are equally as comical as they defy both human capability and the basic laws of physics but this movie revels in that fact delivering some top notch visual humor along with an essential 80’s inspired synthesizer soundtrack.
Overall: 8 out 10
Turbo Kid combines over-violent action mixed with slapstick comedy and a touching story of two kids trying to find the strength to survive within each other. It knows exactly what people loved about 80s films and it did it in a way that doesn’t feel forced or derivative. This film certainly won’t appeal to the weak of heart but for anyone who is a die-hard fan of 80s action movies this film is worth your time for the catchy synth-pop soundtrack alone.
– Zaid Al-Kazemi