Judge Daryl Loomis wishes this had been about the death of Nashville.
Where violence begets violence.
The idea of a story in which the police try to take down a vile criminal empire sounds really good, right? Infiltration, surveillance, gunplay, all that stuff is tops, as long as it's done in a reasonably creative fashion. Taking all that stuff and setting it in Southern Louisiana, well that sounds like a heck of a time and, in fact, sounds like something I recently saw. Well, two things, really. The first was True Detective, the superior HBO drama that bled these elements for everything they were worth. The second is a straight-to-video cop movie with an impressive cast called Bad Country, a testament to what happens when these same parts are compiled lazily.
Facts of the Case
After getting found out as an undercover cop, Bud Carter (Willem Defoe, Wild at Heart) shoots a few perps and brings a few more in, which leads him to Jesse Weiland (Matt Dillon, Drugstore Cowboy), a white supremacist contract killer in the upper echelon of his criminal organization. Soon, Carter has recruited Weiland to be an informant for him and Weiland gets to work, culling information from Lutin (Tom Berenger, Major League), the psychotic leader of the organization. But when Weiland is found out, there's nobody more prepared to dole out vengeance than Lutin.
I wanted to like Bad Country, I really did. It features one of my favorite actors in Willem Defoe and a whole slew of quality performers that made the movie appear to have real potential. Along with Defoe, Dillon, and Berenger, we also have Amy Smart (Crank) as Weiland's wife and Bill Duke (Predator) as the head of the ATF. There are also a number of character actors in smaller roles who I was interested to see. It all amounts to little, though, because the performances have all mostly been mailed in. The only one who seems to be trying is Defoe, but any ground he gains is lost amongst the rest of them
I can understand why, though, because this is a lazy story with no emotion or weight. It's as predictable as a cop movie can be, with the only exception being the sheer number of characters viewers are required to keep track of for the story to even make sense. How a movie can be needlessly complicated and totally obvious, I have no idea. Director Chris Brinker (in his only directorial effort; he passed away shortly after filming wrapped) makes it happen, though, and to nobody's benefit. There appear to be two competing white supremacist gangs, though they all wind up answering to Lutin, and there are like twelve officials from different aspects of the criminal justice system working on the case, although there only needs to be the one in Defoe. This is all done to manufacture tension, but the only thing it actually manufactures is confusion.
The worst part is that, somehow, Brinker wanted us to feel sympathy for Weiland, an unrepentant bigot, with Nazi tattoos covering his body. Screw that guy. Moreover, we're supposed to care that he just wants to take care of his wife and baby son. However, there's no way Weiland would ever marry a woman who wasn't a bigot in her own right and that baby boy, raised by these people, will continue the cycle of racism that these scumbags propagate. I basically couldn't care less whether Neo-Nazis live or die and trying to make me feel compassion for them only has the opposite effect; I root for them to die.
The beautiful locales are made boring by the filming and the dialog is as predictable and irritating as it could possibly be. Even the action scenes come across as dull and lifeless. That's what most will watch Bad Country for, but they won't get much. This is a massive disappointment, one that I can't really recommend to anyone.
Bad Country arrives on Blu-ray from Sony in a mediocre edition. The 1.78:1/1080p image looks fairly good, with very strong fine detail throughout the frame and solid colors across the board. It looks a little bit flat, but that probably reflects the film's budget more than anything else. Black levels are solid, though, and whites are nice and bright, so there's not much to complain about here. The 5.1 Master Audio sound isn't quite as strong, but still pretty solid. There's decent action in all channels and dialog is always clear, but there isn't a whole lot of pop in the gunshots or explosions. For extras, all we have are a series of deleted scenes that add little to the film and a brief, very standard making-of featurette where the actors pretend like they were super proud to have appeared in the movie.
There was definite potential in Bad Country, but it doesn't fulfill that on most levels. The performances aren't as good as one would hope for from a cast this talented and the action isn't nearly as thrilling as one would want. Ultimately, this is a predictable, cookie cutter story with little going for it. There are plenty of excellent cop movies out there to choose from, so there's no reason waste your time on this one.
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