Putting a direct to video grindhouse-esque movie up for review is a bit of a conundrum because you know what you are getting into when you press play, and it’s not going to be “good” per se. But what happens when the movie is so bad that it undercuts even your meager expectations for it? Where is the line between camp and crap? How do you determine what’s so-bad-it’s-good and what is just so-bad? Was it all intentionally bad or is this just a terrible movie? What is the meaning of life? Why are we all here?
Cartel 2045 answers none of these questions. It’s just bad.
Director: Chris Le
Release Date: May 1st, 2018 (VOD)
Cartel 2045 starts off with a quick intro filling in the gaps between now and then. Robot soldiers were a thing for a bit then a tragedy occurred that pushed all nations to ban the use of robot armies so, of course, the tech will slip through the grates into the criminal world. It’s an interesting setup but it’s really only used to define why law enforcement has no robot armies while the strongest cartel in Mexico romps around with a few in tow.
The characters are all that you’d expect to see when it comes to a grindhouse movie. Ex-military man is given a chance to right his wrong by saddling up with “the man” to take down a threat that is too grey for the government to get their hands on. Aided by a black ops team, Carson Wright (Brad Schmidt) goes up against the head of a ruthless cartel, Angel Malvado (Danny Trejo) who is developing a super weapon to take over all of Mexico.
The biggest issue with Cartel 2045 is that it takes itself too seriously, not in a comedic way either. There are few if any laughs present throughout the entire movie and it almost makes you feel like first time director Chris Le convinced all of the actors outside of Trejo that this is the most serious movie they’ll ever do. The end result is just a boring mess, Cartel 2045did start to get funny in the final 10 minutes where they pulled out the good CGI gore and some heads started popping off, but aside from that it’s a slog.
Lastly, there is the execution of the movie, I don’t know whether these mistakes were done on purpose to further fill that grindhouse feel or whether the screener I got wasn’t finished, but early scenes that featured only Spanish were not subtitled making me rely on bad audio and my own broken knowledge of the language. The CGI was shoddy at best with janky movements on the robots and some visual effects outright missing from some scenes. I don’t really know if I can fault this on style or incompetence but with the rest of the movie being so poorly done I’m more inclined to lean towards the latter.
Ultimately I can’t even recommend this to fans of the grindhouse genre. Unless this ends up on Netflix or one of the many streaming services out there and you need something to fill a drunken night with friends who enjoy bad movies. Otherwise, there are far better ways to spend an hour and 45 minutes.