Review: CARTEL 2045 (2017)

Cartel 2045 Key Art

I have a theory about CARTEL 2045. It was never meant to be released, it was filmed as an example of how not to make a low budget film. But Uncork’d Entertainment had a hole in their distribution schedule they needed to fill and were forced to put it out there. I can’t imagine any other way this film would have been made or released.

Shot as JUAREZ 2045, CARTEL 2045 it tells us of a future in which robotic soldiers were developed and deployed in battle. But there were a few snags, one of which ex-Marine Carson Wright (Brad Schmidt LAKE ALICE) is rotting in prison as the fall guy for. But when the man responsible for creating the robot soldiers resurfaces, working for a drug cartel run by Angel Malvado (Danny Trejo, SLASHER PARTY, PREDATORS) he’s offered a deal.

It seems the implant for controlling the robots is still implanted in his brain. So if he’ll just run down to Juarez with a small team of soldiers and grab the renegade scientist he’ll get his freedom back. Of course, it’s not as easy as that. Somebody has tipped the cartel off.

Right from the start CARTEL 2045 has issues. A montage of news footage introduces us to the film’s world. Footage that includes a single reporter, (and no crowd), asking questions of the robotics firm’s CEO. And a cartel beheading video in which the victim is quite calm and quiet as his head is sawed off. We meet Carson in a scene that’s cribbed from the first appearance of Snake in ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK. Not a good start at all.

Once we get South of the Border it only gets worse. CGI muzzle flashes and blood spray abound. The fight scenes are awful. People simply stand there as a robot launches grenades in their direction. And then react as though it landed near them, despite the explosion well away from them. And Trejo hams it up badly, as though he couldn’t take the film even remotely seriously.

This could have been a fun sci-fi action film but CARTEL 2045 misfires at almost every possible turn. Even the robots are unimpressive. And did I mention the fake grindhouse style film scratches? This is easily one of the worst things I’ve seen this year.

Cartel 2045 premieres on VOD May 1 from Uncork’d Entertainment.

Jim Morazzini

Movie buff, gym rat and crazy cat guy