Co-written and directed by Chris Le, Cartel 2045 is a low budget, sci-fi action film that’ll likely appeal to B-movie enthusiasts. Set in the year 2045, a continuing drug war has caused havoc between the United States and Mexico. When an international robotics engineering company falls to the brink of bankruptcy, they begin to make ends meet by selling their technology on the black market. With the Mexican cartel now free to get their hands on advanced military robots, it’s down to a group of marines to turn the tide and take the cartel down for good.
One of those tasked with the mission is Carson Wright, a re-enlisted marine member who was part of an experimental program gone wrong. Having committed a deadly atrocity in the past, he’s given one more chance to earn his freedom and go home to his family. With a premise that uses many familiar sci-fi tropes, Cartel 2045 shines when it doesn’t take itself too seriously.
Using a grainy grindhouse aesthetic throughout, there are times when it seems as if Le was trying to channel his inner Rodrigo Rodriguez. It’s a shame then that the film lacks much of its potential with the first half feeling clunky, disjointed and frightfully dull. With awkward interactions and tonal inconsistencies, it isn’t until just over the halfway point that the film finally begins to find its rhythm. Once it does, however, we’re treated to plenty of corny dialogue, gratuitous gore and over the top action.
One of the biggest selling points for many will be seeing Danny Trejo as ruthless cartel leader Angel Malvado. Fanatically overplayed, Trejo looks to be having fun as the cold-hearted enforcer who’ll stop at nothing until the city of Jaurez is his. With a robot army at his disposal, Malvado is a force to be reckoned with as he plans on building bigger and better robots for his infantry. Clad in gold-plated armour, there’s some real ingenuity behind the designs with the director having referenced real-life cartel weaponry as an inspiration. Although the special effects may be far from perfect, they’re more than respectable enough for a film of this nature and doesn’t detract from the overall experience.
Cartel 2045 is a film which will resonate with those who love a bad movie. If one has the patience to sit through a bunch of meandering exposition for the best part of an hour then you’ll be rewarded with a gloriously over-the-top climax. With Trejo suiting up in a gigantic mecha suit equipped with a chaingun, one would be hard-pressed not to give this film a second glance. With a certain degree of charm towards the end, one can’t help but think it was all too little, too late. An uneven affair, Cartel 2045 is a film which will only be enjoyed by those with a perverse love for the B-movie genre.
CARTEL 2045 / CERT: N/A / DIRECTOR: CHRIS LE / SCREENPLAY: CHRIS LE, JUAN R, GARIBAY / STARRING: DANNY TREJO, BRAD SCHMIDT, ALEX HEARTMAN, ADAM SCORGIE / RELEASE DATE: MAY 1ST