Swapping Aquaman's trident for a rusty meat cleaver, Jason Momoa returned to our screens this week in a new sci-fi horror that shocks and disgusts in equal measure. Helmed by auteur Ana Lily Amirpour, The Bad Batch reimagines the dystopian world of Mad Max with even more grotesqueries, mixing murder, cannibalism and dismemberment into a drug-fuelled, neon soaked abyss.
Within the Grindhouse haze of The Bad Batch, a number of renegades deemed unfit for normal society fight for survival in the desert of a Texan wasteland. Among these outlaws, a toothless Jim Carrey, porn stache wearing Keanu Reeves and dismembered supermodel Suki Waterhouse all draw focus, but the real star is undoubtedly Jason Momoa.
Jason Momoa Literally Devours The Competition
It's been six years since we lost Khal Drogo to the murderous throes of a pillow in #GameofThrones, but his spirit still lives on in Momoa's latest role, Miami Man. Both characters are intrinsically violent, both have a thing for blondes and both possess a physicality that pulsates off the screen. However, The Miami Man takes Momoa's career to whole new extremes, beyond even the realms of Atlantis and Westeros.
Best known as Khal Drogo in Game Of Thrones and the DCEU's #Aquaman, Momoa plays his darkest character yet in The Bad Batch, evoking the unnerving presence of the cannibals from exploitation classics such as The Hills Have Eyes — If these aberrations worked out and modelled in their spare time, that is.
Much like the sun-scorched exploitation films that The Bad Batch draws inspiration from, our introduction to Miami Man remains seared on our retinas long after the credits roll. Set to the throbbing grime of Die Antwoord, we first meet Momoa's character from the rear as Amirpour's camera unscrupulously gazes on the tattoos emblazoned across his surging muscles. In slow motion, the ripples of Momoa's back fill the screen, until we're suddenly taken to the front, where we slowly track up from his pecs up to his tinted sunglasses. With a set of facial hair that evokes the very best of '70s porn, we then watch as Momoa makes the simple act of drinking into an erotic art form, one that has no right to be that sexy.
In many ways, the scene is utter lunacy. From the tight, tight underwear on display to the almost laughable intensity of each workout we see, director Ana Lily Amirpour fetishises the male body in ways rarely seen on screen, yet still revels in how ludicrous the scenario actually is. As a porn pastiche inspired by the volleyball game in Top Gun, this would work brilliantly, but The Bad Batch takes things a step further by treating the entire episode as completely deadpan, which somehow makes Momoa's debut even more memorable.
Miami Man Is The Best Of A 'Bad Batch'
Momoa's entrance is unforgettable — if a little bit thin on the ground in terms of character-building dialogue — yet behind his mountainous pecs, majestic hair and almost unintelligible Cuban accent, Miami Man reveals himself to be far more than the sum of his parts.
Early on, Momoa's character shares a tender moment with his daughter, drawing a portrait of her in between eating courses of human flesh. Adorable. While this burgeoning relationship could have come across as trite in the wrong hands, Jason Momoa and director Ana Lily Amirpour combine their talents to create something far more fascinating than your run-of-the-mill bad boy with a heart of gold.
As the leader of a cannibalistic sect of outlaws, Miami Man is implicit in the deaths of many innocents, hacking up their bodies to feast upon by the open fire. The intensity that such a role requires is nothing new for Momoa, whose previous work capitalised on his rather impressive yet imposing physique. However, what sets the character of Miami Man apart from other parts is the way in which Momoa uses his body to tell a story — and not just one that's violent.
Despite a remarkable lack of dialogue for the majority of the film's running time, Momoa remains the most powerful presence in The Bad Batch through the way he interacts with others. Stripped of words, Momoa instead converses through facial expressions that endear his character to audiences, even when his hands are committing despicable deeds.
Early on, a bizarrely antagonistic yet sexual relationship forms between Miami Man and protagonist Arlen, who previously lost two limbs to the cannibalistic cravings of his followers. While the pair never act upon these desires onscreen, the raw chemistry between the two performers is palpable through the sweltering desert haze. By the film's end, #JasonMomoa also convinces us of Miami Man's love for his daughter, despite the fact that they share few words together.
Like the very best exploitation films, The Bad Batch is problematic in places. Miami Man barely reacts to the death of his wife and the lack of conversations soon leads to a narrative thats drifts like the sands of the desert itself. Nonetheless though, Ana Lily Amirpour has still crafted a fascinating film that carves a unique place in today's film culture.
From the assured direction to the killer soundtrack of this drug-laden world, there's a lot to like in #TheBadBatch — Yet nothing's more impressive than Momoa himself, towering over the residents of Comfort and his followers alike in what's arguably his best role to date. Forget Aquaman. Mr Miami is the true god among men, even if his motives are somewhat less altruistic.
What's your favorite Jason Momoa role? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below!