Even though the title of Johnny & Clyde may indicate that writer/director Tom DeNucci has gender-flipped the classic criminal couple of Bonnie & Clyde – which could actually be quite a fun, progressive angle – audiences are in for no such change; at least from a gender point of view.
DeNucci, unfortunately adopting an “everything but the kitchen sink” mentality across his narrative, opts to change the game around our off-kilter serial killer lovers rather than the titular players themselves; here played by Avan Jogia (Johnny) and Ajani Russell (Clyde). In between bloody killing sprees and lots of bedroom antics, Johnny & Clyde’s latest endeavour has them setting their sights on a casino.
This would be all well and good if said casino wasn’t overseen by crime boss Alana (Megan Fox), a playfully volatile blonde bombshell of sorts, whose security measure happens to be of the demonic kind. Yeah, we’re getting supernatural up in here! And that wouldn’t be such an issue if the action unfolding managed to hold our attention instead of testing our patience.
I’m all for a genre mash-up of sorts – a horror heist movie? Yes, please! – and when we open with a cheeky, sarcastic Fox eating up the material with a camp exuberance (which DeNucci’s film actually doesn’t deserve) Johnny & Clyde suggests that will unfold could be deliciously unserious in an intended fashion. Sadly, no such luck.
With elements of too many narratives fighting for their own spotlight, not to mention nerve-testing performances from Jogia and Russell – the latter particularly taxing with her brat-like demeanour – Johnny & Clyde is unable to evoke a sense of fun amongst its wild mentality. It’s a shame too, because it’s clear that DeNucci (who co-wrote the script with Nick Principe) has a wealth of twisted genre ideas, he just tried to execute them all in one setting, which unfortunately undoes any of this film’s potential.
With Russell’s Clyde adding insultingly little beyond scantily clad attire and an unrepentant nature, her female energy is also wildly misplaced in a film where the strongest asset is the villain; or, at least, the villain in the eyes of Johnny & Clyde. Fox is the sole reason any of this uneven mess remotely works. She owns the sultry temperament of the character, and she leans in joyously to the ruthlessness to the point that you wish the movie was dubbed “Alana” and we got to view 100 minutes of the underrated actress toying with her subordinates.
Natural Born Killers this is not, Johnny & Clyde‘s overt unruffled personality could have made way for a fun, off-the-wall spree, but instead shoots blanks and leaves us begging to be put out of our misery.
ONE AND A HALF STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Johnny & Clyde is screening in select theatres and available On Demand in the United States from May 5th, 2023. It is now available to rent and/or buy on DVD and digital in Australia.