Cartel 2045

Its the year 2045. war on drugs in Mexico has escalated as a ruthless drug Cartel use robots to enforce their operations.

Cartel 2045 is a new action thriller from writer-director Chris Le bringing us his first directorial bow on a feature film. The setting: Juarez Mexico, the year 2045. Trump’s wall is nowhere to be found and a shady robotics company heading toward bankruptcy sells off their assets to drug cartels along the border. These superhuman machines operate as hitmen, henchmen, and soldiers, doing the bidding of the drug lords and creating a new wild west. What’s worse, the Malvado cartel, run by Angel Malvado (Danny Trejo) has captured the designer of these metal killing machines, Estevan Flores (Chris Persky), in order to ensure the robots never turn to good deeds again.

The United States government is understandably furious and decides to attempt rescuing Flores, thus gaining control of the killing machines. Enter Chris (Alexander P. Heartman), a disgraced soldier with nothing left to lose and a history of working with these military-grade monsters. The government wants him to head a rescue operation in exchange for freedom.

“…captured the designer…in order to ensure the robots never turn to good deeds again.”

Le has some great ideas in this high-concept take on the run-of-the-mill drug war movie. The idea of technology falling into the wrong hands and become a tool of evil is nothing new. Doing that with robots, in the future, in an otherwise rustic setting, now that is an effective twist. So, it’s a bummer that for all the good moves, there are just as many problems.

The script is fat. For an action movie, there are a number of repetitive, unnecessary scenes that could have been combined or cut entirely. The pacing is sporadic with sudden action erupting between languid moments and pregnant pauses. If the screenplay just had some trims it might have had a fighting chance.

We are also subject to odd conceptual choices. For instance, the film has artifacts speckling the screen throughout the entire runtime of the film. A common stylistic choice that references the grindhouse films of the 70’s. I can see the reason that the movie is played with the brutal abandon of vintage exploitation movies, but it doesn’t jibe with the otherwise pristine effects and sound. After a while, it becomes an annoying distraction.

“…you simply can’t go wrong with Trejo.”

Again, there are moments in Cartel 2045 that work far better than they deserve to. The movie clocks in at a very distended 100 minutes and offers more repetition than not but you simply can’t go wrong with Trejo. The man is having a hamfisted ball playing this part to the utmost.

Check your brain at the door and just chill out. Trejo is here to chew the scenery in another Mexican drug cartel movie. But this time, we are in the future. Cartel 2045 never fully succeeds in what it is trying to do yet is still mildly entertaining, aiming for campy grindhouse absurdity without the wit or brevity.

Cartel 2045 (2018) Written and directed by Chris Le. Starring Danny Trejo, Alexander P. Heartman,

Cartel 2045 is worth Good  (***)

Norm’s Rating System: ****(GREAT) ***(Good) **(Ok) *(Awful)

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