Saturday, April 20, 2024

“LAND OF BAD”

THE STORY – A rookie Air Force combat controller and a seasoned drone pilot support a Delta Force team as they try to shift a mission gone wrong into a rescue operation.

THE CAST – Liam Hemsworth, Russell Crowe, Milo Ventimiligia, Luke Hemsworth, Ricky Whittle, Lincoln Lewis & Chika Ikogwe

THE TEAM – William Eubank (Director/Writer) & David Frigerio (Writer)

THE RUNNING TIME – 110 Minutes


Where would we be without the B-level action film? Sure, it’s nice to see Hollywood filmmaking excel in the action genre, and last year gave us some of the best we’ve seen in recent memory with “John Wick: Chapter 4” and “Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning.” But those aren’t B-level action, the type of movies you see while scrolling through a Redbox machine at Walmart or on Tubi at four in the morning. B-level equals the kind of action films that know exactly what they are. They’re not attempting to reinvent the wheel but to entertain audiences. William Eubank’s “Land of Bad” is that exact type of action flick. It may not be memorable, but you can’t say you weren’t somewhat entertained while watching.

“Land of Bad” follows a young Air Force combat controller named Kinney (Liam Hemsworth), who’s brought onto a high-risk mission by a spec ops unit. Although Kinney is nervous, he’s accompanied by a team of vets led by squad leader Sugar (Milo Ventimiglia). After the mission goes wrong, Kinney is alone in enemy territory with only a drone pilot named Reaper (Russell Crowe). Together, they must find a way to navigate a hostile region and help Kinney make it out of there alive.

“Land of Bad” focuses mainly on the two leads played by Hemsworth and Crowe. While Hemsworth is in enemy territory fighting to survive, we see Crowe’s character’s daily life at the base where he works. Reaper is a middle-aged drone pilot on his fourth marriage and is expecting a child any day. He’s high-strung and detail-oriented, but he knows how to get the job done efficiently. Most of the characterization is focused on Reaper’s character, as Kinney is mainly the vehicle for the film’s action. It’s a clever decision by Eubank, as the director never asks Hemsworth to go anywhere out of his wheelhouse. Hemsworth’s performance is built upon the strenuous, physically demanding nature of his character’s experience. Hemsworth tumbles, punches, runs, grunts, and scrapes his way through every close encounter with enemies. It’s a solid action-leading man performance that does the job and nothing more. For a film like “Land of Bad,” this works in its favor.

The action in the film is reliably structured and executed. There’s an interesting split between intense hand-to-hand combat scenes captured by cameras in a handheld style that balances with the larger staged firefights. “Land of Bad” effectively shows the symbiotic chemistry between Kinney and Reaper. Communication is key between the pair, as Kinney has to signal out locations for Repear to bomb while juggling multiple things simultaneously. The film is very much by-the-books, and the action is the only aspect that keeps it watchable.

The screenplay does little to engage audiences in anything else besides a few enjoyable moments of Reaper ranting to fellow soldiers about menial things or his interactions with Kinney. Also, the way the characters’ storylines are split is inconsistent, making most of the story uninteresting. Understandably, people don’t come to see films like this for a good plot, but little effort is executed even to attempt to give Kinney the same amount of development as Reaper despite being a well-trained soldier turned killing machine. The few scenes where Kinney and Sugar fight together are some of the film’s best moments. The altercations feel sloppy and display how each character’s exhaustion affects their fighting ability. Whenever Ventimilgilia pops up on the screen, he lets loose in the action. Besides that, he’s also just another character used to push Kinney’s character further or set up the action that’s about to unfold in front of them. The film’s villain is also a generic antagonist with no personality or anything memorable besides being an obstacle in Kinney’s path to survival. However, the film’s sound work is solidly crafted. Every shot, explosion, and punch helps deliver a sense of tangibility to each action sequence.

Overall, “Land of Bad” falters. It’s a generic story with messy plotting and undercooked development that doesn’t do much to leave a lasting impression on audiences. Where the film does succeed, though, is in showcasing the action-leading man capabilities of Hemsworth and showing that Crowe can always make you crack a smile even with the most average dialogue. “Land of Bad” certainly entertains, and that’s why you watch a movie like this in the first place. Should you go out of your way to watch it? No. But if your dad turns this bad boy on the TV while you’re visiting, you will likely have a good time watching it, at least.

THE RECAP

THE GOOD - Hemsworth delivers a solid and physically demanding leading man action performance that never asks him to leave his comfort zone. Crowe is entertaining despite having to say generic dialogue or step away from the more interesting aspects of his character. The action is well structured, with pretty solid sound work that helps keep audiences engaged with the action.

THE BAD - The undercooked script is uninteresting when away from the action and disjointedly split between the two leads. The lead villain is un-memorable, and most supporting characters are there just to help push Hemsworth from one action set piece to the next.

THE OSCAR PROSPECTS - None

THE FINAL SCORE - 6/10

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Giovanni Lago
Giovanni Lago
Devoted believer in all things cinema and television. Awards Season obsessive and aspiring filmmaker.

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<b>THE GOOD - </b>Hemsworth delivers a solid and physically demanding leading man action performance that never asks him to leave his comfort zone. Crowe is entertaining despite having to say generic dialogue or step away from the more interesting aspects of his character. The action is well structured, with pretty solid sound work that helps keep audiences engaged with the action.<br><br> <b>THE BAD - </b>The undercooked script is uninteresting when away from the action and disjointedly split between the two leads. The lead villain is un-memorable, and most supporting characters are there just to help push Hemsworth from one action set piece to the next.<br><br> <b>THE OSCAR PROSPECTS - </b>None<br><br> <b>THE FINAL SCORE - </b>6/10<br><br>"LAND OF BAD"