MOLLY (2017)

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Directed by: ,
Written by:
Starring: , ,

UK Release Date – TBC

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Ah the post apocalyptic wasteland my old friend, it’s always nice to see from you. Whether it’s the promise of two men enter one man leaves or the idea of an emotionless army of killer machines, there’s a lot of promise to this tantalising near future location. With so many possible cultural shifts or technological changes there’s an endless supply of potential in such a setting in which the only limits are imagination. Or of course film making skill. Despite the obvious nods to the films of George Miller (or even Kevin Reynolds) and the colour palette suggesting this could be another Turbo Kid, this is unfortunately a missed opportunity.

While the choice of protagonist initially appears to be mildly interesting, Molly (Julie Batelaan) soon turns out to be a one note teenager equipped with a series of clichés from other movies instead of a real personality. Her arsenal includes a hand crafted bow and arrow, a revolver that is used on special occasions since cartridges are scarce, and even some mind bending psychic powers that flare up when things get stressful. She even has a cute pet (some kind of eagle) that warns her of danger every so often, but only if it’s convenient to the plot. She can fight and shoot and use knives. But little of this is engaging when they use such a kitchen sink approach and never flesh out her characterisation or these abilities.

A lot of it can be put down to living in the wild of course, and she spends most of her time scavenging what seems to be a few empty wartime defences at the seaside. They all seem to be filled with the same dessicated corpses and empty tin cans – begging the question of how anything is edible and why she’s searching places that so few people inhabited. The sea views are pretty nice and there’s a strange lack of insect life swarming about the remains she comes across. It’s a bit too clean and far too lush. Occasionally bandits or crazed brain damaged ‘supplicants’ attack Molly but she usually despatches them pretty quickly. What happened to the human race is never clear. There’s a neat establishing shot depicting the beaches before and after this event at least. But someone later remarks that this all happened just two years earlier, raising even more questions.

This lack of world-building extends to the villains of the piece who live in an offshore oil rig of some sort and spend all their time betting on supplicant death matches. You can picture how the film makers imagined all of this in their pre-production plans. A huge sandy wasteland where killers roam the shores of a toxic sea, a sinister industrial lair in which the survivors are reduced to savages watching brutal gladiator games. But the actual results feel more like a children’s television show than a gritty post apocalyptic nightmare. Whether it’s scenery chewing actors who don’t speak English as a first language or the endless recycled corridor sets, this is all pretty amateur. Of course the level of competency isn’t always a roadblock to entertainment value if there’s enough charm and flair on show, but here it just isn’t the case.

At times it seems as though civilisation has completely broken down as currency is replaced by bullets and families take shelter in rickety beach huts. But at the same time some of the characters use futuristic guns and even robotic power arm weapons. Is this all battery powered somehow? Why do they have hologram technology but nobody ever uses antibiotics? Are these fighting slaves or zombies? It’s very nonsensical, but I guess this is a story in which the hero’s spectacles never break during fight scenes and she bathes naked but leaves all her knives several metres from the river bank. However outside a few badly acted comic relief characters the tone needed to carry this kind of material is all wrong.

Purely as an action movie this had some potential and the fight scenes are staged effectively enough for what they are. If only the psychic powers that save Molly in combat were developed or made any sense. There are a few flashbacks to explain away their origins but there’s never a sense of progression. She’s in desperate need of a learning curve or even just a character arc. Without rules or consistency the film just becomes a slog as a stream of goons come at her as she becomes entangled in a child in peril subplot. These two ingredients – telekinesis and a kidnapped girl – should have been the backbone to the narrative, but it all feels like a series of diversions rather than a real storyline as it devolves into a slow and clunky hallway fight that takes up the whole third act for some reason. The Raid or Oldboy this ain’t.

I guess some of these comparisons are pretty unfair for an indie flick with its heart in the right place. They took time to plan all this out and build a few rusty corridors for a villain’s hideout, and it’s visually appealing at times. But a series of second hand genre tropes aren’t enough to hold up weak performances and a thin script that often tries to be clever but just isn’t developed enough. Maybe they could have expanded on why there are science fiction gadgets in some scenes but not others, or how the oil rig gambling community actually functions. But unfortunately in the end this is actually less than the sum of its parts.

Rating: ★★★★☆☆☆☆☆☆

Mocata
About Mocata 86 Articles
A sucker for classic epics, 80s science fiction and fantasy kitsch, horror, action, animation, stop motion, foreign cinema, martial arts and all kinds of assorted stuff and nonsense. If you enjoy a bullet ballet, a good eye ball gag or a story about time travelling robots maybe we can be friends after all.

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