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'LAND OF BAD' REVIEW

BY BECCA JOHNSON FEBRUARY 14, 2024
Land of Bad

William Eubank, who's previous directorial work includes Underwater (2020), Paranormal Activity: Next of Kin (2021) and The Signal (2014), is now dipping his toes into the war genre with his newest feature Land of Bad. Pulling together a talented cast including Liam Hemsworth (The Hunger Games) and Russell Crowe (Gladiator), Land of Bad is an action-packed ride that whilst isn't the most competent war flick out there, it provides entertaining action, fleshed out character work and decent discourse within the script.


SYNOPSIS

When a Delta Force team is ambushed in enemy territory, a rookie officer refuses to abandon them. Their only hope lies with an Air Force drone pilot as the eyes in the sky during a brutal 48-hour battle for survival.



REVIEW

A stacked cast is pulled together here, and the talent in front of the camera is arguably the biggest reason that Land of Bad so enjoyable. Russell Crowe is a stand-out as Reaper, an Air Force drone pilot who must try his best to direct his men who are currently in grave danger in the field. His character is complex and he's going through a lot - with a wife expecting a baby back home to receiving a lot of aggrovation from colleagues on base, he doesn't have an easy ride. Crowe embodies this perfectly, emitting a believable amount of anxiety, fear and dedication to getting his men back to safety – he is great. Liam Hemsworth also delivers a good performance as the 'main character' of the ground mission. His character Kinney is the channel for some interesting discourse surrounding war technology, as he learns more about the traumas of war when he sees it close-up in action. Kinney goes through a lot, and the urgency needed from Hemsworth is present. The ground mission group is also made up of Ricky Whittle (The 100), Luke Hemsworth (Westworld) and Milo Ventimiglia (Creed II) amongst others, and they all deliver.


Land of Bad

When we're in the field with the ground mission team, there are plenty of action-packed sequences. They're as entertaining as they should be, not shying away from showcasing the reality of the violence and brutality that occurs. It's a tense affair with super high stakes, heightened by the urgency of the performances and the fast pace of the story. The teams lives are at stake as they're discovered by the enemy, and Land of Bad never once let's us think our characters will get an easy win out of the mission. It's chest-thumping and taut, delivering the intensity that is needed. Almost a movie of two halves, the remainder of scenes are set back on base with Reaper (Crowe), directing the team and ensuring their safety. This is where the character development kicks in, and it's tremendously thorough. By the end, we know Crowe's character inside out and have formed a bond with him – he's so easy to root for.


Whilst it's commendable to have a movie provide both character development and entertaining action, there's a bit of a mismatch here. At times, the flip between locations feels a little jarring, despite both providing something worth watching. There is also no development for the characters out there in the field, including Liam Hemsworth's Kinney, meaning the audience are left feeling quite disconnected from them. By focusing the development solely on one character, it stops us from rooting for the team as we should, and shifts our focus away from the characters that should be our main focus. There is also some poorly written dialogue filtered throughout, particularly when it comes to Reaper. Much of his dialogue is charming and powerful, but whenever he's trying to make jokes, they unfortunately fall a bit flat. There's a few too many vegan jokes in here that are overused and outdated, and also feel very forced in and simply unfunny. Much of the dialogue used by the ground mission team is a little bland and uninspired, carbon copied from other films of this genre.


Land of Bad

When it comes to the action, Land of Bad is excellent. Not only is it fast-paced, entertaining and brutal, but is superbly shot, looks great and is well-crafted. It also takes time to develop lead character Reaper, allowing an excellent performance from Russell Crowe to shine through, in a likeable and charming role. The supporting cast are great, and there's some interesting discourse surrounding the role of drone pilots and war technology. Some finer tuning within the plot in terms of wider character and dialogue would've improved things slightly, but as it stands, it's a fun flick that's bound to entertain if nothing else.


STAR RATING

Rating Land of Bad

LAND OF BAD RELEASE IN THEATRE FEBRUARY 16

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