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Film: Land of Bad
Cast: Russell Crowe, Milo Ventimiglia, Liam Hemswort,  Luke Hemsworth, Ricky Whittle, Daniel MacPherson, Chika Ikogwe, Robert Rabiah
Director: William Eubank
Rating: 2.5/5
Runtime: 110 min

“Land of Bad” has the presence of two Hemsworth brothers and Russell Crowe, to help shore up its low- budgeted action smarts. Even though Crowe spends most of the movie sitting in a chair staring at a screen and strategising rescue ops with the help of a drone, he manages to make his presence felt. The Hemsworth brothers do what they are  best at – ‘looking good and doing good!’

The screenplay by writer/director Eubank and co-writer David Frigerio dives right into the bare bones story. There’s little backstory about any of the soldiers. What you get here is remote controlled video game warfare contrasting with the barbaric intimacy of real-time combat. When a Delta Force special ops mission goes terribly wrong, Air Force drone pilot, the socially awkward Captain Eddie “Reaper” Grimm (Russell Crowe), tries to guide Air Force Sergeant J.J. “Playboy” Kinney (Liam Hemsworth) away from Islamic terrorists and their missiles, with only 48 hours to remedy what has devolved into a wild no holds barred firefight.  

A relatively untrained Kinney was recruited at the last minute to join the dangerous Delta Force mission in the Philippines to retrieve a CIA asset. His fellow soldiers included Sugar (Milo Ventimiglia), Abel (Luke Hemsworth) and Bishop (Ricky Whittle). The latter three are presumed dead soon enough and Kinney has to find his way out of the tough situation shooting, climbing, and wading through enemy territory, with Grimm’s help. Along the way, Grimm informs him, “I am your eyes in the sky and the bringer of doom.” Grimm has his breaks too. We see him strolling through a supermarket trying to find specialty foods requested by his vegan wife – and the scene is juxtaposed against scenes of Kinney being brutally tortured.

William Eubank puts on a valiant actioner of combat scenes with an A list cast. But the narrative has ploddy development. “Land of Bad”’s action sequences are pretty effective as they come at you in surprising fashion and are given a makeover with effective lighting and pace but they fail to be memorable even when we see perfectly timed explosions blasting bad guys to smithereens. Milo Ventimiglia, is also in this movie but not given much to do other than looking macho and getting a chance to cut into a terrorist in the neck with a broken dinner plate.

The plot is conventional, the narrative stays lean and straightforward and the dialogue has some welcome wit. The exposition though is half-hearted. “Land of Bad” fits better into the B movie standard with it’s indulgent drama and less than extraordinary action movie thrills.

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