The post-apocalyptic action genre has something for everyone. It can be thrilling (Mad Max, Edge of Tomorrow), socio-political (Snowpiercer, Children of Men), spiritual (Book of Eli), hyperviolent (Doomsday), or kind of silly (Waterworld). SUPERGRID may not tread new ground in the genre (though this Canadian was quite happy to see his country represented at last), but it does wrap up a lot of genre staples in a very fun package.
This film takes place in a dark near future, where a Russian and Chinese mining conglomerate takes over most of the great plains of the US and Canada for the purposes of fracking for natural gas. This area is the titular SuperGrid. However, the high intensity fracking has led to constant earthquakes, which have unearthed an airborne pathogen causing a mutating disease called the Black Lung. Gangs of mutated criminals called Jacks control the area, and not even employees of the mining cartel dare enter. All of this information is given in a very neat opening credits sequence, that avoids the all-too-boring text scrawl we’re used to seeing in front of sci-fi films.
Leo Fafard (Wolfcop) and Marshall Williams (Glee) play the Campbell brothers, professional runners who drive the grid hauling cargo, and fighting off anyone who gets in their way. This time, they’re carrying something more valuable than water or guns; the cure for Black Lung. And everyone from mutants, to gangsters, to corporate shills want it bad.
When I heard this film was from the team behind Wolfcop I couldn’t wait to check it out. But where Wolfcop was campy and hilarious, this film takes a more sincere approach to the action movie. The performances make each character feel unique and lived in. The production design plays with apocalyptic tropes in a way that feels familiar, but also fresh. And the cinematography captures the paradoxically beautiful and harsh world to perfection.
I always appreciate a film that can find a balance between extremes. SUPERGRID manages to pack a message about environmental protection and corporate greed without being at all preachy. Many of the opening scenes are dark and bleak, while the climax is shot in beautiful natural light that conveys hopefulness amid the carnage. And the characters are neither too jokey or too self-serious. Wrestling fans will especially enjoy the performance from Jay Reso (WWE’s Christian) as gang-leader King Kurtis. He delivers the most impactful line of the film at a pivotal moment, and I loved it.
Look out for SUPERGRID’s limited theatrical release in Canada on December 14th, and see it on VOD on December 18th. Canadians can be proud of this addition to the canon of post-apocalyptic action films.