Beeba Boys Review - So Inept It Uses Transformers As Its Moral Compass

[LFF 2015] The Sikh-gangster film is stylish but oh so wrong.

Rating: ˜…˜… Transformers isn't know for its complex relationships or moral ambiguity. It's a story of colourful robots fighting different coloured robots. All fine if you want to sell brightly coloured robot toys, but not quite a worthy basis for meditation on good and evil. So you know when a film draws the grounding of its central theme from the battle between Optimus Prime and Megatron that it's a really baseless piece of tat with nothing at all to say. Beeba Boys is a comedy thriller that is neither funny nor thrilling. It's not even about the titular gang of Indo-Canadian gangsters, who after a rather effective opening are shoved into the background and treated very much like the interchangeable dwarves in The Hobbit. No, the film is about gangster Zeet, a dashing movie-star-looking type who's in a gang war with a rival and also struggling with the police and... yeah, you've heard this one before. What makes Beeba Boys unique is the Sikh background of the characters, which basically amounts to allow for some bright clothing and the odd stylised visual. It's not helped that Zeet is so utterly unlikeable - smarmy to the max and boasting an ego that would make Tony Montana blush, yet we're meant to root for him because he's the protagonist. After an hour of ignoring his hot, superficially interested wife and dealing with a mole (I did say it was generic tat) Zeet wrestles meekly with morality when his son likens him to Megatron. You see, he's apparently actually a good guy, looking out for his own. Not only is it another "been there, done that moment", mere minutes later he rants about how a nemesis views themselves as Optimus Prime. If it's trying to show an arc or some semblance of acceptance, the film fumbles it. This central quandry is made up of empty statements of good and evil that come across as base, uninspired and ultimately worthless. Worst of all, the toys his kid was playing with when he made the comparison weren't even Transformers. Referencing franchises that are (unless you're an eighties-kid with some bifocal nostalgia goggles) rubbish aside, the film is a nauseating watch, with the camera constantly swirling up and around the actors, almost as if a low-budget attempt to mimic the style of Michael Bay (a comparison that is more justification for the Transformers inclusion than director Deepa Mehta ever intended). I could almost respect a clearly creatively inclined decision if it was carried off properly (the second unit location shots are as generic as usual and the whole thing is scrapped later on) or at least backed up by some other spark. But no. The dialogue is obvious and underdeveloped, delivered by average acting and it all fizzles out with a finale that felt like it was written five minutes before the cameras rolled. It feels like Beeba Boys wants to be the Indonesian Scarface, but all it winds up being is a large bore that thinks Transformers is nuanced. Now that's funny. Viewed as part of the London Film Festival 2015.
Beeba Boys will be released in 2016.

Film Editor (2014-2016). Loves The Usual Suspects. Hates Transformers 2. Everything else lies somewhere in the middle. Once met the Chuckle Brothers.