One day, holidaymakers were playing on the beach, and the next, the bombs have dropped and civilisation is in ruins. Through this post-apocalyptic wasteland runs Molly (Julia Batelaan), who has escaped from a facility and is much sought after by the scavengers who populate what is left of the world. As seen just now, when she fends off a couple of attackers with her fighting skills - and a unique talent where she can fire off a burst of psychic energy when under pressure, something she is reluctant to use but will when push comes to shove. Really, she simply wishes to survive and there are forces abroad in the land who are against that…
Molly was a low budget Dutch science fiction flick with a hefty dose of action to offset its vivid photography. Often with Armageddon cinema the temptation would be to film it as drably as possible, but the two directors here, Colinda Bongers and Thijs Meuwese, opted for a different approach, as if we were watching a comic book come to life with the accompanying hues to match that. The other cultural touchstone was something no post-apocalyptic actioner could get away from, and that was Mad Max, the Australian franchise of George Miller who had conjured up such a terrific idea for his stories that it proved irresistible for so many others following him.
Not that most of those who showed up with their camera crew in a desert (or on a beach) and filmed a bunch of cars zooming about were in any way as skilled as Miller, but every so often you would get something where embracing the concept could generate real sparks, as this did in places. Of all the series, Mad Max: Fury Road was probably the biggest touchstone, in tone but not in plot - we see nobody so much as get on a skateboard here, never mind behind the wheel of a large automobile, so it was the combat that proved the main impetus for driving the story along. Molly was in effect a warrior woman in the tradition of Sigourney Weaver in Aliens, another eighties archetype.
The actual combat she faces was not of the expertly choreographed variety, so there was nothing graceful here, but what you were offered was a selection of scrappy beat 'em up scenes where you began to wonder why Molly didn't use her special powers more often, though the answer to that would be "because the film would only be half an hour long if she did" (she prefers a bow and arrow straight out of The Hunger Games). One thing a future wasteland can do for a production is keep the budget down, and that was the case here as until the final third the filmmakers simply used a selection of outdoor locations they did not even have to dress too much. Those bright colours made what had, to be honest, been done plenty of times before, more visually attractive, and not only because Batelaan cut a striking figure as she stomped through the wilderness.
For a start, she wore glasses, an indication she was not your usual action heroine, and an inspiration to spectacles-wearers everywhere that should the bombs drop, you could survive despite not having 20/20 vision. Molly was inspirational in other ways, as she was not, as the eighties influence might have indicated, an objectified female, and though there was a fight sequence she performed in only her knickers, there were no exploitative camera leers, it was purely to depict the hardship and vulnerability the character was facing as a matter of routine. What she did to counter that was brought to fruition when she has someone to look after, here a little girl (Emma de Paauw) who parents have been killed by the villains (who have their own Thunderdome set-up), leading to a carefully edited thirty minute finale where Molly goes to rescue her from the clutches of the bad guys, including a woman with a robot arm. It may have been modest, but it was energetic and worth supporting when so many of its contemporaries settled for less: this aspired to more. Music by Jochem Weierink.