Turbo Kid is a BMX pedal-powered 1980s throwback, along the lines of Solarbabies or The Salute of the Juggar with a dollop of Brian Trenchard-Smith, set in that particular eras vision of 1997, vector graphic logo, synth score and all. The film has the curious honour of quite possibly the most film-funding logos (by my count, more than 10) up front, that it in a way comically sets a tone before film film even starts.
A Canadian – New Zealand co-production (a rare bird), it has the curious juxtaposition of French stop signs over recognizable New Zealand landscapes. Inside this bizarre (but comfortable) setting, we have a young scavenger who gets caught up in the war for water in the wasteland, and his own past on his own journey becoming the superhero in his favourite comic book. It is a journey that has some trouble smoothly connecting all its set-pieces, but within each scene there is oodles to love, particularly if you are a fan of early period Peter Jackson (Bad Taste, Dead Alive). Saw blades fly, hot pokers singe and arterial sprays soak all corners of the screen.
There is a very self-aware ridiculousness that sees wasteland warriors huffing it on bicycles in football pads and metal masks that is inviting you not to take it seriously, and yet the film finds blessed heart in the form of Laurence Leboeuf, a superstar in Quebecois film circles that is completely unknown outside of the local industry. She plays a Cherry 2000 companion named Apple that has the most childlike enthusiasm towards hand-to-hand combat and touch-tag. Apple continues the ubiquitous 2015 trend of A.I. representations of onscreen along with Ex Machina, Tomorrowland and Chappie (amongst others). Every scene she is on screen the film is better for it.
Turbo Kid is a fine collection of villain scenery chewing (Michael Ironside, always fun), video-game fight choreography, and cute puppy love. It has an eccentric obsession with all things that spinning (wheels, blades, view-finder cards), and this is often the case with the films plotting, alas. If its three directors (François Simard, Anouk Whissell & Yoann-Karl Whissell) cannot fully rope together a thru-line for all of its eye candy and practical effects, you can just sit back and bask in the glossy nostalgia. Thinking will get you nowhere in a movie like this, you’ve just got to believe.