This silly sci-fi’s satire may fall short of the mark, but its ‘60s take on a morally lax 21st Century remains frivolously amusing.
It’s an unspecified year in the 21st Century and everything has a retro-futuristic feel. Cars are designed in 1960s style, but with Perspex replacing the usual metal roofs. Televisions have rounded edges, and your home is apparently incomplete without unsettling sculptures of blinking eyes. And, as is explained in the introduction to The 10th Victim, a worldwide game called ‘The Hunt’ provides a legal outlet for humanity’s violent tendencies, eliminating the need for war (and, as is glibly noted at one point, suicide).
The 10th Victim was an inspiration for the Austin Powers film series, and silly humour is appropriately abundant. What’s hard to discern, however, is whether this is intentional or not. From its ridiculously twisty plot to laugh-out-loud lines such as a casual reference to the current Pope being American or a man’s 11th marriage, this is a film that balances on the precipice between being entertaining for the right reasons and for the wrong reasons. However, this sense of silliness propels the film forwards and allows its more ridiculous moments to be forgiven and forgotten.
In its favour are its fantastic aesthetics, with excellent use of Roman architecture as well as its future-as-seen-from-the-1960s style, as well as amusing if not particularly committed performances from stars Mastroianni and Ursula Andress. The premise itself is also a particularly strong one, which can be seen echoed in The Running Man and The Hunger Games series, but it’s not given the attention it perhaps deserves after the expositional introduction to the film. Similarly, the satirical elements of the film have lost their weight over the 50+ years since initial release, with references to older generations having to be ‘handed in to the state’ or hidden away being swept under the carpet with only brief and baffling mention.
Watch this film if:
- You’ve always wondered what people thought 21st Century Rome would look like in 1965.
- You want to see a man killed by a weaponised bra.
Avoid this film if:
- You want an Alphaville-esque dystopian city.
- You hope to see Mastroianni at his coolest (i.e. without ginger hair)