[THS Review] Mega Time Squad
John is a small time criminal trying to make a go of it in New Zealand. He works for a similarly small time kingpin named Shelton, played with hilarious aplomb by Jonny Brugh (of What We Do in the Shadows fame). Shelton’s ragtag group is full of quirky characters who would feel right at home in a Coen Brothers movie. Shelton wants John and his friend Gaz to steal money from a newly established Chinese gang that pushing in on his territory. John and Gaz talk about betraying Shelton, taking the money and establishing their own gang for themselves.
When the robbery happens, John not only steals the money but a Chinese bracelet that he wants to give to Shelton’s sister. The bracelet, it turns out, allows the wearer to go back in time, which John discovers as he is double-crossed and almost killed. Running from Shelton’s gang, John sees himself and flees in terror, before hearing his other self yell, “push the button! You’ll know when!”
That moment arrives as he is almost drowned and he pushes the button. He is transported briefly back in time, stumbles back to his previous hiding spot, becomes the person who originally warned him to push the button. And then he pushes the button again. This happens again and again, John getting further away from his previous selves and the pushing the button.
Eventually, he does what anyone not versed in the movie world of time travel would do and talks to his former self. And then before you know it, he’s creating his own little gang…of himself. What follows is a madcap heist film in which John tries to not get killed by the Triad who is pissed he took the money, while trying to get the money (and save his would be girlfriend) from Shelton and his clueless thugs. The problem for John is that none of his time-created clones are any smarter than he is, which leads to backstabbing and arguments, even as they are being chased by Shelton’s gang.
When you see a New Zealand comedy, typically you can expect witty and incredibly quirky humor, and Mega Time Squad is no different. The combination of dumb crooks both allied with and against John’s Mega Time Squad and the zaniness that time travel adds, really sells this original take on a pretty worn genre. Some moments completely surprised and I found myself cackling as John's squad showed up in random moments.
I’m still not completely sure what the rules are of this particular form of time travel. It involves ancient Chinese demons and arbitrary rules for preventing a Drag Me to Hell type of scenario. Other than that, I’m kind of at a loss; but when you’re laughing as hard as I (and the audience) was, then you don’t really care.
Unfortunately, the film relies on Chinese mysticism that feels completely out of place and touch in 2018. This narrative device has been used countless times in the past, but now it just feels a bit out of place. Exacerbating this feeling is the fact that the movie utilizes some cinematography and camera tricks/zooms often associated with the martial arts exploitation flicks of the 70s, pushing it further into uncomfortable territory.
These negatives aside, I had an absolute blast with this and so did the packed house. I definitely recommend checking it out.