Blood, Guts, Bullets and Octane

Reviewed By Chris Parry
Posted 12/08/01 21:32:55

"They made a movie. Great. Next time they can work on making a good one."
2 stars (Pretty Bad)

Blood Guts Bullets and Octane is an achievement, to be sure. Joe Carnahan and his merry indie crew managed to shoot a feature film in 13 days, with a budget of $7300, and then edited the damn thing in one 30 hour stretch. Great. Pour yourselves a scotch, light up a cigar and wait for the folks from Guiness to call, because there won't be any Oscars coming from this little outing. The makers might have worked hard without much in the way of funding, but it shows, and if the directing is a little bit pedestrian, it's outdone in that department by both the performances and script. In short, great title, great effort, but not worth eight bucks. At all.

Two sleazy car salesmen are down on their luck - business is on a downward slope, they owe a heap of money and are being thrown out of their premises, the big car dealership down the road is screwing them out of staff and customers, and they don't have a lot of cars left on the lot.

Then comes a way out. An offer to look after a convertible for two days, at the end of which they'll be $250,0000 richer.

The half hour before this happens... nothing happens. We sit and watch these two fast-talkers talk fast, we see a few weirdo customers, we get it drilled into us that these guys are losers, and we're subjected to the kind of pop culture-obsessed, cussing and yelling dialogue that could only be a left-over of the four year period where every new filmmaker thought they could out-Tarantino Tarantino.

The flick does spice up now and then - a scene involving allegations that Johnny Cash was a butt-pirate runs along quite nicely, even if that's all there is to the scene - but in between is a lot of high volumed yelling, macho posturing and plot twists that twist so far they become ridiculous.

For a $7300 feature, it's great. But as a feature that can be compared to all others that have come before it, Blood Guts Bullets and Octane sits fairly low on the evolutionary scale. Perhaps Mr Carnahan has got his production deal and now works with experienced crews and high budgets, and if he has, more power to him. But this is one piece that even he would have to admmit hits a lot of rookie notes, and could have used a little less rush to get it out, and a little more patient construction.

The big test for a low budget film is, how would it play if it had top line stars in the lead roles? The addition of Antonio Banderas did nothing to hurt Robert Rodriguez's El Mariachi remake, Desperado, but if you were to imagine Ben Affleck and Matt Damon in the lead roles of Blood Guts Bullets and Octane, I think you'd still be looking at an underdone affair. Albeit a more expensive one.

For film students only. Doing a job fast and cheap doesn't necessarily mean doing it well.

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