Land of Bad Review – An Engaging Yet Flawed Rescue Operation

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For many people, a film like Land of Bad might not have enough to catch the eye. However, personally, almost everything about it made me instantly want to add it to my watchlist: a straightforward, action-driven premise based on a rescue operation; a quite decent cast with Liam (The Hunger Games) and Luke Hemsworth (Next Goal Wins), Russell Crowe (The Nice Guys), Ricky Whittle (The 100), and Milo Ventimiglia (This is Us); and most importantly, it’s directed by William Eubank, who made the overlooked yet loved amongst many of the people who’ve seen it, Underwater.

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Land of Bad Critique

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With the help of screenwriter David Frigerio (The Signal), Eubank takes the basics of typical war formulas, in this case, focusing on an extraction team going through a mission that, of course, doesn’t go as smoothly as intended. Eubank wastes no time in thrusting viewers into the heart of the action, using the beginning of the mission not only to kickstart the plot but also to introduce the characters. It’s a somewhat risky move that may not give enough time for the audience to genuinely connect with the characters, but it’s efficient enough to accompany the primary entertainment layer of Land of Bad.

As character development remains somewhat surface-level, I still found myself surprisingly engaged throughout the film’s riveting shootouts and heart-pounding moments. Eubank’s directorial flair shines through in a couple of stylistic touches, including well-timed slow-motion, exquisite control of tension levels, and spectacular explosions that truly elevate the intensity of the brutal mission in a remote landscape. Land of Bad increases the amount of blood and physical violence towards the third act, jumping into more shaky and choppy fighting scenes, but holding the right energy to continue to grab the viewer’s attention.

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The ensemble cast delivers commendable performances, with Liam Hemsworth standing out as the protagonist and the only character who actually undergoes a palpable arc. From an inexperienced soldier to a courageous, resourceful individual, Hemsworth’s portrayal of a man adapting to life-or-death circumstances and digging deep inside himself to survive is definitely worth watching. Crowe injects moments of levity into the narrative while also grounding the story as a dedicated US Air Force drone pilot who creates a special connection with Hemsworth’s character, although Land of Bad falls short of fully exploring this relationship.

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Despite the film keeping the action tight and attractive, the story takes a bit of a downturn in its third act, succumbing to plot conveniences that strain believability. I’m definitely not one to even care about logic issues, let alone be affected by them, but Eubank is able to establish such a realistic environment in the first hour or so, that I couldn’t help but feel disappointed with some far-fetched plot points. Thematically, there’s an attempt to explore the juxtaposition between the futile value of everyday routines and the gravity of survival through the blend of three completely distinct sequences playing simultaneously. However, the message is clear from the first couple of transitions, making the conclusion of Land of Bad feel overlong and tonally imbalanced since going from torture scenes to something as random as grocery shopping expectedly doesn’t work multiple times.

A few final remarks on the powerful score from Brandon Roberts (Thanksgiving) and also some gruesome makeup that really contributed to the brutality of some scenes.

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In Conclusion

Land of Bad offers an engaging yet flawed rescue operation that should please most viewers seeking adrenaline-driven entertainment. With excellent performances across the board, William Eubank employs fast pacing, high-intensity shootout sequences with a few interesting stylistic choices, and basic yet riveting storytelling. Character development and thematic depth remain surface-level, and the third act’s plot conveniences contrast with the realism of previous segments, but the film ultimately accomplishes what it promised, providing enough moments of tension empowered by a potent score to still reach the shore.

6/10

6 out of 10

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Written by Manuel São Bento

Articles Published: 49

Portuguese critic with a tremendous passion for cinema, television, and the art of filmmaking. An unbiased perspective from someone who has stopped watching trailers since 2017.

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