JOHNNY AND CLYDE
(*)-VITO CARLI

"It's rare to see a professional production that reaches screens with such sub-par acting..."

A Contender for Worst Film of the Year

(081723) Johnny and Clyde is the poorly produced and incompetently directed new splatter crime film. Itís about a pair of romantically involved serial killers/assassins that clash with a sadistic and kinky casino owner. When Megan Fox is the biggest star who gives the best performance in your film you know you have problems.

The movie looks and feels like a cheap knockoff of The Devilís Rejects. But it has none of the colorful visually interesting style or effective humor of a good (not
The Munsters) Rob Zombie project. This film shares that Rob Zombie filmís macabre humor, ironic tone, and extreme violence. But few of the jokes here work and the special effects look like they came from a poor high school production or bad Troma film (not Tromeo and Juliet or Toxic Avenger-which I liked).

The title of course references the famous real-life bank-robbing couple who were the subject of the great Arthur Penn 1967 "Bonnie and Clyde", a film that changed cinema history. Johnny and Clyde is also about killer criminal lovers, but it is nowhere close to the level of quality either the Penn film or Gun Crazy or Badlands which are also on a similar subject. Also, while all those films were classy prestigious films later considered classics, Johnny and Clyde is a sleazy direct-to-DVD (I found it on Redbox) Z film full of little-known actors that donít deserve to become better known.

Clyde here (played by Ajani Russell) is the female assassinís last name. She spends an awful lot of time distracting men with flirtation so that her boyfriend can fill them with bullets. Johnny is her ultra-violent killer boyfriend played by Canadian actor, Avan Jogia, who is made up to look a bit like Megan Foxís real-life beau, Machine Gun Kelly. Apparently, the ultra-violent, hyper-sexed couple spends almost every waking hour causing mayhem or having sex with on piles of stolen money.

The two lead actors playing the couple are bland and forgettable. In case youíre wondering Jogia, who looks good shooting people was the star of the immortal classic, Resident Evil: Welcome to Racoon City (Iím being ironic here), and Adjani Russell, who prefers to kill in lingerie-like outfits is a skateboard athlete and model known for her lead in the timeless cinematic masterpieces Skate Kitchen (2018.) Relax, I never heard of them either.

Johnny proves he is good boyfriend material and a sentimental guy when he gives Clyde the knife he used in his first kill. Of course, she is so touched and covers him immediately with kisses. The pair plans a big heist to steal a fortune from a crooked casino owner. The basic premise of criminals encountering monsters during a theft was also done in Zack Snyderís
Army of the Dead, but that film had a far better cast and an actual decent budget.

Johnny puts together a small gang of homicidal hoodlums to help him with a robbery. Along with his girlfriend, he gathers together the suicidal Butcher (Nick Principe), the mentally unbalanced Baker (Charles W. Harris III), and the torture-loving Candlestick (Robert Lasardo). They are all pretty stupid, but they love to kill, torture, and maim for the love of it. Apparently, the filmís writer decided that giving them cool names and looks was enough and they didnít actually need to write characters for the actors. They are even more shallow and brutal than the heroes in early Image comics before they hired actual good writers like Robert Kirkman and Garth Ennis.

Although we are supposed to root for the hoodlums because they have ďfreeĒ lifestyles and are antiheroes, when they start dying off it has no dramatic power because they have so little personality. The filmmakers couldíve learned something from 2013's Deadpool film. Although he is a homicidal murdering maniac, we care about him because of his disfigurement and tragic past. In this film none of the main characters have a reason to behave like monsters so we donít care when they are picked off one at a time.

The most famous acting presence in the film is by far Megan Fox, one of the big screenís most popular sex symbols. Many people know her from tabloid TV shows as well as the witless and overlong first two Transformers films. She also is known for helping to sink the Titanic size disaster, Jonah Hex. Fox was fine and demonstrated some genuine acting ability in How to Lose Friends and Alienate People (2008), Jenniferís Body (2009), Til Death (2020).

But very little she does in this film remotely resembles acting. When she plays casino owner-Alana Heart, she merely reads her lines in scanty clothes in a deadpan voice as if she were slightly pleased with herself. But she does have a bit of charisma, looks great, appears to be having a good time, and seems aware of how ridiculous everything she says and does in the film is.

Some erotic humor occurs because Heart is a dominating mistress who has a pair of sex slaves that do her every whim. The subs who constantly parade around in bondage gear are named Honey (Brett Azer) and Pot (Sydney Jenkins). Pretty clever huh? She also likes to put water glasses on their heads so she can use them for target practice.

The plot is further complicated because the casino owner enlists the aid of an immortal demon, Bakwas who likes to chop off heads and eviscerate anyone who gets in his path. Bakwas (who is also played by Principie) looks sort of like he is wearing a dime store grim reaper outfit with a Walgreens-purchased skull face.

In addition, Heart gets help from the local Police Chief (Armin Garo) who wants revenge because Johnny and Clyde who tortured and murdered his daughter in cold blood. After his daughterís death, he became an alcoholic which led to his being fired so he desperately wants to get revenge. He is the only somewhat realistic character in the whole film.

The decent Chinese actress, Bai Ling who was terrific in Richard Kellyís Southland Tales (2006) as well as Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (2004) is completely wasted playing a rival assassin/ninja who is hired to go against the Johnny and Clyde gang. Her role fades into the background like wallpaper.

Johnny and Clyde is a candidate for the worst film of the year. It's rare to see a professional production that reaches screens with such sub-par acting, lousy visuals, and such schlocky gore. The only possible reason to see it is if you are a Megan Fox completist or if youíre looking for a film so terrible that you can enjoy it as an unintentional comedy.

This website doesnít allow me to give films a zero-star rating. This is as close to a zero-star film as I have seen since I started reviewing for this website.
 

Directed by:    Tom DeNucci
Written by:    Tom Denucci and Nick Deprincipe
Starring:    Megan Fox, Adjani Russell, Avan Jogia
Released:    05/23/23 (USA)
Length:    100 minutes
Rating:    Not Rated
Available On:    Released simultaneously on selected theater
 screens and DVD on May 5

For more writings by Vittorio Carli go to www.artinterviews.org and www.chicagopoetry.org. His latest book "Tape Worm Salad with Olive Oil for Extra Flavor" is also available.

Come to the next session of the Monthly Poetry Show on the first Saturday of every month at Tangible Books in Bridgeport from 7-9 at 3324 South Halsted hosted by Vittorio Carli.

JOHNNY AND CLYDE © 2023 Hyperborea Films
All Rights Reserved

Review © 2023 Alternate Reality, Inc.

 

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