Sci-fi is, and always should be, about innovation and how we as humans fit into the bigger picture. Its priority should be showing an audience something they haven’t quite seen or thought of before. Everyman indie filmmaker King Jeff’s Troubleshooters guns for a high-concept, dystopian future feature where robot bodyguard underlings turn on their humans. While this might sound familiar, you’d be fooled into thinking this is another hodge-podge science fiction flick from that summary alone, and if not for its painfully obvious budgetary constraints, this would be an instant indie classic.
Troubleshooters follows two technicians (troubleshooters, if you will), Sandoval Wolf (King Jeff) and Chilly Wallace (Gorio), who are tasked with hunting down and neutralising rogue security robots. Gorio’s Chilly has resigned himself to this seemingly unending battle, while Wolf is evidently less optimistic about their future escapades, with a rift clearly forming as the plot thickens and fights become more intense. Through a world-weary attitude and drawn-out therapy sessions, Sandoval cannot seem to catch a break in-between jobs, with Jeff’s performance really showcasing this depressing limbo.
The film’s low budget is both a blessing and a curse. King Jeff is clearly working with funds of the shoestring variety here and still manages to inject a high level of dynamic energy into the cinematography and framing of Troubleshooters. Even the clumsy action scenes are enjoyable. Something that unfortunately holds the film back is its poor sound design, which never feels fine-tuned, nor do the special effects come across as truly tangible. Certain shots are either too grainy or too underexposed to make sense of, with all these flaws ultimately cheapening a production that already looks like a home movie.
Even still, Troubleshooters maintains an endearing level of enjoyable outlandishness. It’s absurd, funny, and oh so weirdly original. Think Boots Riley and Spike Lee with a dash of futurism. It’s sloppy and definitely difficult to follow at times, but it’s hard to deny King Jeff’s passion for his work. His film is an imperfect testament to the imagination of independent filmmaking.