Land of Bad (2024)

Land of Bad Review

Land of Bad

In the infuriating war movie “Land of Bad,” there are two heroes, one more convincing than the other. Both fight terrorists who decapitate hostages in an establishing scene and later pose questions about what really separates us from them (the answer is disturbing).

The movie is most interesting when it’s following hero No. 1, Air Force Sgt. J.J. “Playboy” Kinney (Liam Hemsworth), who is capable but inexperienced. He’s a believable man of action thanks to strong filmmaking and choreography, though not quite so much as his co-star, Russell Crowe though that has more to do with Crowe’s obnoxiousness as hero No. 2 than anything else.

Crowe plays socially awkward drone pilot Capt. Eddie “Reaper” Grimm, who tries to keep Kinney away from terrorists and missiles before pointing him toward rescue. He’s at his best when he’s wide-eyed at banks of mood-lit computer monitors, spouting off information with his supportive wing-lady, Staff Sgt. Nia Branson (Chika Ikogwe). He’s a lot less charming when he’s mostly taking up space as the character in the movie who has a big thing to say about how military institutions don’t support competent people like Grimmsy-poo or something.

But Kinney is no slouch either; he shoots stuff good and climbs things fast and wades through enemy territory lickety-split in order to find himself face-to-face with a high-priority hostage-mission objective person type thing (played by Mel Gibson). This prisoner happens to be a CIA spy who was gathering intelligence on a dangerous Russian arms dealer until getting poinked on the noggin with something heavy by some nondescript bad guys.

Those guys call themselves Jihad Hassan Janjalani (or some variation thereof) which sounds right if you don’t think about it for more than half a second and they are, according to some introductory on-screen narration, among “the most violent extremist groups in southern Asia.”

For the most part, though, the makers behind “Land of Bad” reduce their antagonists to inanimate obstacles for Kinney and his team. That is, until a few key scenes that try really hard to remind us why we should care about how bad these particular guys are.

They revel (briefly) in their psychopathy by torturing and executing people in a “Saw”-esque cave prison. “I look a man in the eye and I make my choice intimate,” one terrorist boasts of his penchant for creative pain infliction moments after Hemsworth insists, “That’s not the conversation we should be having right now.”

So when should we have it? Perhaps not during this movie, where No. 1 never really stops long enough to explain himself and No. 2 probably shouldn’t start either. He’s a neurotic mess, an energy-drink fueled loner who takes great umbrage with snotty (and notably younger) Col. Virgil Packett (Daniel MacPherson). Some effort is made to humanize Crowe’s character mostly through slapsticky asides about how down-to-earth/rude/crass he can be or whatever.

Grimm is very specific about his work chair. He makes a big fuss over Keurig-style coffee pods and is painfully earnest when he tells Branson that a wedding is, “probably the greatest social ritual that humanity has.” He’s also the only one who can bring Kinney back safe, which is mainly unbearable because Grimm’s scenes are so plodding and numerous and his character is so thinly drawn. Why does hero #2 have to take up so much of this movie or rather, why do we need to know so much about him before his rapport with hero #1 can matter at all?

As a dramatic break and defense of Kinney’s grisly and sometimes thrilling scenes, Grimm accidentally puts his finger on why most of his scenes are so irritating. Speaking about his fourth wife, he tells Branson the old joke about how you can tell if someone’s a vegan. “They will tell you,” he chuckles to himself.

Any “Land of Bad” scene where characters show you why they’re the best at what they do is usually effective if not compared against their desperate attempts to make pulpy cyphers seem like flesh-and-blood people. Director William Eubank already proved his technical finesse and solid understanding in earlier features, like the Kristen Stewart-led 2020 disaster adventure “Underwater.” So it’s no surprise that many action scenes in “Land of Bad” are eerily poised if not dynamically lit or paced or generally full-throated in their sensationalism—an airborne missile strike that takes out and ignites a hillside of militants (and their truck!) serves as a great showcase for what Eubank’s latest has to offer.

In its faint defense, “Land of Bad” does deliver simple pleasures like when Milo Ventimiglia, who’s also in this movie, shanks a terrorist in the neck with a broken dinner plate. Eubank might have delivered a better movie if he’d just made a high-toned programmer with his collaborators. As it is, “Land of Bad” is a pandering drama with some action movie thrills.

Watch Land of Bad For Free On Gomovies.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top