Writer/director Patryk Vega has become a household name in Polish cinema, thanks to his low budget, highly violent portfolio of work. He is known for the likes of Botoks, Women of Mafia 1 and 2 and an action short called Czerwony Punkt, which stars Ewan McGregor. Yes, that Ewan McGregor.
Vega began the Pitbull series back in 2005 with a feature-length film. From there, there has been a TV series, which ran for three years, and two further spin-off films. This latest film, Pitbull: Exodus, marks the fourth feature-length film in the franchise. Connecting all of these films is Andrzej Grabowski, who stars as police detective Jacek ‘Gebels’ Goc.
Pitbull: Exodus is broken down into three different chapters. The first chapter focuses on a gangster nicknamed Nos (Przemyslaw Bluszcz) who, thanks to his bomb-making skills, rises up the ranks of the notorious Pershing gang. In the second chapter, we see Jacek’s son become involved with alarm fraud and violent burglary. In the final chapter, the two worlds combine, with Nos pursuing Jacek’s son and Jacek determined to put Nos behind bars for good.
It all seems fairly straightforward. It’s a classic gangster / crime thriller with some personal touches of revenge thrown in, and yet, the film itself is so unbelievably chaotic and difficult to follow. Not because it’s Inception levels of clever, but because it’s so very, very bad. This is the type of film that, were it to make it to a UK remake, would star Vinnie Jones and Danny Dyer. In fact, in some sequences, it makes Pimp look like Shakespeare.
It’s hard to assess the acting quality of the film, largely because Vega has made the strange decision to have his actors deliver their dialogue in English. As a result, everyone sounds like they are reading from giant cue cards and, whoever is in charge of shuffling them isn’t moving fast enough. The dialogue is also spectacularly terrible throughout. Do hardened gangsters really say “snitches get stitches”? There is loads of profanity throughout but everyone sounds embarrassed to have to say “motherfucker” ten times in one sentence so it loses its impact fairly early on.
Pitbull: Exodus also takes the prize for the worst sex scene you will ever watch. “Feel the heat,” a young woman says, her face and voice utterly devoid of any discernible emotion, “I want you to get it up again.” Then, in order to avoid a full frontal shot, Vega moves to a wide shot where – wait for it – an open packet of crisps blocks the sight of the woman’s body.
Przemyslaw Bluszcz delivers his lines with a menacing Bale / Batman husk, so at least he’s trying. Although, there is one hilarious scene where he puts tinfoil in his mouth (“to disguise his voice”) and, if you can keep a straight face during it, you’re doing well.
Another strange element is the musical soundtrack. It literally does not stop. There is barely a single moment of silence in the entire film. Instead, Lukasz Targosz’s score – which largely seems to consist of thumping drums or weird, Tardis-like noises – rumbles on throughout.
The action is rather poor, for the most part. Yes, there’s a lot of blood and guns (it is a gangster film, after all) but you would think that a film about a bomb maker would throw a little more money behind their explosions. The assorted, interchangeable henchmen look like they’ve been scooped up from a local gym before any of them had the opportunity to partake in “leg day”. There’s even a scene where – as part of the alarm system burglaries – a young lad goes to hit someone over the head with a crowbar. However, you can see him stop the swing inches before it reaches his victim’s head. How that shot made the final cut is utterly bizarre. There are also a lot of scenes where characters narrate the action sequence that is unfolding before you, so you’re essentially getting the same information twice.
The final chapter of the film – named the titular Exodus – is where the action becomes even more convoluted and things really start to drag. There isn’t even the comedy value of the first two chapters. Sub-plot and after sub-plot get thrown in for good measure, including a Russian border drugs sting and Nos’s henchmen winning the tender for – and supplying – the police computer system. Who knew the Polish public sector was so efficient?
Lots of thoughts may well run through your head whilst watching Pitbull: Exodus. Is this a spoof? Should I have seen the other movies for some more context? Would I actually rather be watching “Mr Worldwide” Pitbull? How long is left on the run time? The ending – spoilers – does appear to set it up for yet another sequel so you do have the option of strapping yourself in for more.
Polish cinema has given us the likes of Interrogation, Eroica, Cold War and Man of Iron. Patryk Vega, in this instance, has given us a big, steaming turd.