Starring: Willem Dafoe, Matt Dillon, Tom Berenger
Genre: Drama/ Thriller
In his endless battle to rid Baton Rouge of its notorious gangster cartels, detective Bud Carter (Dafoe) manages to take down one of the cartel’s key men, Jesse Weiland (Dillon). A man who actually wanted out and just wants to protect his wife (Amy Smart) and newborn son, Bud manages to persuade Jesse to become an informant to help him take down the notorious cartel led by Lutin (Berenger). However, after the cartel investigates its own suspicions, these two men are faced with an extremely desperate situation where not taking down this cartel means not only risking their own lives, but the lives of those close to them.
Where as a film like Out of the Furnace, which had a similar setting and similar macho characters was a little thin on plot and tried (and often failed) to focus on certain themes and offer substance, Bad Country is pretty much the polar opposite. Bad Country is a purely plot driven film, that offers pure caricatures and a clichéd and predictable plot with absolutely no substance whatsoever. That is not necessarily a bad thing, as director Chris Brinker (who sadly died during post production) has managed to assemble a talented cast of reasonably well known names to deliver decent performances to elevate the cliché ridden script into a very watchable, if very forgettable 95 minutes.
Despite starring some well known names, Bad Country was a straight to DVD release, and there is a clear reason for that. If you want something easy to watch that does not require too much brain power, then Bad Country in my view fits that bill perfectly. It is a pure genre movie that admittedly seems to embrace that fact, and though most ‘twists’ are predictable enough, there are enough of them to keep interest. Apparently this is based on a true story, but judging by the painfully clichéd nature of the narrative and its characters, ‘based on’ is probably putting it loosely.
In the lead roles, as well as sporting some very fetching facial hair, Dafoe and a beefed up Dillon seem happy to take their pay cheques and are a little doomed to their fate of delivering clunky and clichéd dialogue, but also provide watchable screen presences to keep things ticking along nicely. Meanwhile Amy Smart and a very large and old looking Tom Berenger seem happy to remind people that they are still taking acting jobs.
In fact, Bad Country would make a great drinking game: Every time there is a genre cliché – drink! You may end up getting very drunk, but it would be good fun. Also, here is an interesting thought: If this film starred, say Ryan Gosling and Denzel Washington it would probably have essentially the same script but a bigger budget with more expensive and prolonged action sequences, a bigger marketing budget and a theatrical release, but still essentially the same script. Just a thought!
A pure genre movie riddled with clichés, caricatures and facial hair from start to finish, Bad Country deserves its straight to DVD status but is an undeniably entertaining, watchable and very forgettable 95 minutes. Trust me; there are far worse films that you could invest 95 minutes of your valuable time watching!