Opening this year’s Blood in the Snow film festival is director Lowell Dean’s Supergrid, a loving homage to dystopian road movies like George Miller’s Mad Max series:
SuperGrid is set in a near future where mining conglomerates have turned Canada into a wasteland. Two brothers must travel the same road that claimed their sister’s life in their quest to deliver mysterious cargo. En route they must contend with road pirates, rebel gangs, and each other.
You know what you’re signing up for when you buy a ticket to SuperGrid. This is a film that dutifully checks all of the action movie checkboxes:
- Heroes whose gruff exteriors mask soft emotional interiors
- A fraught family dynamic based in tragedy
- A bitter ex who secretly (or not so secretly) still loves the hero
- A cruel totalitarian dictator who is only interested in his own power base
- A henchman (or in this case hench woman) who does all of the heavy lifting in the action sequences
- A variety of explosive/violent set pieces, varying from heists to shoot-outs while driving
- A communal uprising of the people to combat the despot
The fact that T.R. McCauley and Justin Ludwig’s script hews so closely to conventional tropes of the genre could be seen as disappointing, but Canadian action films remain a rarity so this Saskatchewan-shot production feels both ambitious and unique. Considering the minuscule $1.2M budget, Dean delivers some impressive visuals, particularly in regard to the futuristic dystopian world-building.
The actors are well-cast, particularly leads Leo Fafard (as older brother Jesse) and Marshall Williams (as impetuous younger brother Deke). Tough girl North (Natalie Krill) and Owl (Daniel Maslany, brother of Orphan Black star Tatiana) steal the show as Overwatch agents, while Fei Ren is enjoyably over the top (albeit a little broad) as hissable leather-clad hench woman, Guan Yin.
The Bottom Line: SuperGrid fails to offer anything new to the dystopian road movie subgenre, but it handles the expected tropes in a confident and enjoyable fashion.
SuperGrid screens Thursday, Nov 22 at 9:30pm at The Royal. The film opens in theatres Dec 14.