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Machine Gun Kelly's strong performance can't save Taurus from the doldrums

Tim Sutton's latest directorial project finds him teaming up with real-life musician Colson Baker a.k.a. Machine Gun Kelly, in Taurus from RLJE films. Cole (Machine Gun Kelly) is a rising but troubled musician searching for the inspiration to record his next song at the behest of his label manager Ray (Scoot McNairy). Despite the best of his assistant Illana (Maddie Hasson), Cole is pushing himself deep into the void of drugs, alcohol, and one-night stands. Will Cole get his life together before fame turns him into another cautionary tale about the music industry?

After the untimely passing of Hip Hopper Mac Miller in 2018, there were rumors that Taurus would use his life story as the plot. Fortunately, the rumors didn't come to fruition. But even a novice cinema fan will see that the movie takes inspiration from many artists struggling with demons.

The film opens up with a nameless child seemingly accidentally shooting and then introducing us to a talented singer named Lena (Naomi Wild), who has just recorded the hook for Cole's next supposed hit. From there, we meet Cole and watch Machine Gun Kelly flex his dramatic chops throughout the film.

Musicians acting is nothing new, and while I'm not an avid listener of Machine Gun Kelly's music, I began to take his acting chops seriously after seeing him portray Tommy Lee in Motley Crue's biopic The Dirt. From one standpoint, there's an argument that he's playing himself here. However, Kelly brings raw, vulnerable authenticity to Cole. We all know that Cole can be better and has a solid support system. Unfouratnely he gets stuck in his way, and everyone from delivery boys to his daughter becomes victims of his self-destructive behavior.

The director doesn't hold back on Cole's faults. One troubling scene shows him covered in vomit after his latest binge, and he makes it through a busy traffic street. Regretfully, though, the rest of the film doesn't match the intensity of Machine Gun Kelly's performance and boggles down in familiarity. There were only three other performances that had any merit in the film, and two of those were cameos. The first is Megan Fox, Cole's ex-wife, while the second is rising rapper Lil Tjay, who reminds Cole of how artists should treat their fans. The only other performance who Demetrius "Lil Meech" Flenory, who has a humorous monologue about the true meaning of the smash hit song "Happy."

Taurus ripples along too aimlessly and thematically tangled in rehearsals despite only running ninety minutes. Here's hoping Machine Gun Kelly takes another run at a biopic one day, as he has the chops to pull it off.

Final Grade: C-

Taurus is IN THEATERS, ON DEMAND, AND DIGITAL this Friday, November 18, 2022


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