The Bad Batch is a stimulating western science-fiction film directed and produced by Ana Lily Amirpour that takes you into a dog-eat-dog world, or, quite literally, human-eat-human. The film portrays what society can become if we were to follow protectionist right-wing ideologies.
The outlaws, known as “the bad batch,” are exiled and left to their own devices past the Texas border to a fenced-off desert wasteland. The supposed purpose of banishing the undesirables of society is to protect and save the nation’s purity by protecting the “good citizens”—a more extreme punishment than what an ideal democratic society would enforce.
Comfort is another society among the wasteland, led by Rockwell (Keanu Reeves). He abides by hedonism and makes it the main focus of the citizens around him, which means that corruption is evident among them as sex and drugs takeover. They put nothing else above self-pleasure.
Cannibalism is used as a drastic means to survive by some, as those outside the Society of Comfort are forced to resort to these measures. Among this wasteland they have no produce and are not able to grow any, resorting to hunting animals and humans. Those who choose to turn to cannibalism as a way to survive have a very nihilistic mindset, justifying it by saying it’s something they need for survival.
Within these conditions, everyone along with characters like Miami Man (Jason Momoa) and Arlen (Suki Waterhouse) are forced to fend for themselves in this distorted society. Miami Man, an artistic, strong vessel, goes to extreme lengths to make make sure his family is fed. Throughout the film, you can see how madly he cares for his little girl (Jayda Fink), who remains nameless in the film.
One-armed and legged Arlen is a powerhouse in maintaining the audience’s attention. Even though she does not speak very much in the film, it is her movements and expressions that carry her performance. Her drive to keep moving throughout the movie even though she has every reason to give up is what captures the audience.
Both characters are main staples in this film and express their emotions with full passion in the story this movie unravels.
The Bad Batch, with all its turmoil, unravels a dystopian society that offers unflinching commentary and critique of our actual society by showing how we can become so inconsiderate and self-serving towards those who are not as fortunate or have not been presented with the same opportunities.
Although the film is a confrontation, it is a passive one, as these problems are never explicitly addressed. The Bad Batch wants to represent many ideas all at once, and these ideas are never fully expressed or clear as a result. This makes it at times difficult, forcing the audience to really have to look into things further than they appear.
With nearly wordless reels and large empty desert backdrops, the film really takes you in with its electric visuals and excellent cinematography. It’s almost as if you’re standing right there among the dry wasteland.
Amirpour’s vision is not held back in The Bad Batch and challenges the mind, social norms and draws the audience to open their imagination into a vibrant dystopian world.
The Bad Batch will be in theatres early 2017.