Land of Bad Review

Liam Hemsworth stars in this very generic war thriller with Russell Crowe being the only true highlight from an otherwise grim tale.

PLOT: When an Army ODA team is ambushed, their only hope lies with an Air Force JTAC (Liam Hemsworth) and a drone pilot (Russell Crowe) to guide them through a brutal 48-hour battle for survival.

REVIEW: No matter the small changes, it’s incredible how much war movies tend to be the same. The tale of a battalion going into a warzone, only for everything to go wrong, could be described as the plot of several films. So if you’re well-versed in the genre, Land of Bad will feel like going on a familiar ride. It can even be a bit frustrating with how stereotypical the story beats get. But if you’re going into this hoping for some intense action, there are several scenes to satiate that need.

Land of Bad follows a military team as they’re ambushed during a mission. Kinney (Liam Hemsworth), who is lovingly referred to as Playboy throughout, must survive the incoming assault while he tries to escape hostile territory. Thankfully, he has the help of drone pilot Reaper, played by the wonderful Russell Crowe. Even just from that brief description, I’m sure any savvy viewer will see the direction the story is heading in. I always argue that it doesn’t matter if a story is generic so long as the execution is stellar. But outside of a few choice action beats, this is mostly just a slog to get through.

Liam Hemsworth and Luke Hemsworth in Land of Bad (2024).

The problems mostly lie with the extremely generic screenplay, which always follows the exact path you expect it to. The only shocking moment comes from the beheading of an innocent person. Otherwise, this could have practically been written by ChatGPT with how Frankensteined together it feels. A big part of the problem is how disjointed the combat is with the scenes back at base. They’re entirely different tones and tend to clash. I get it; they don’t want Milo Ventimiglia and Hemsworth yuckin’ it up while being shot at. But a little levity would have gone a long way. They should have just stayed serious throughout. And the jokes that it does have clearly have an agenda; I mean, come on, an “I hate vegan food” subplot in 2024? It felt straight out of the early 2000s.

I enjoyed Liam Hemsworth as Kinney, and I’ve always felt that he’s a very believable action lead. But his roles always tend to be very generic, and this is no exception. I couldn’t tell you a single personality trait of his other than the fact that he’s from Ohio. This can be said of all of the military types, who lack anything that would help distinguish them from the next. Milo Ventimiglia is a phenomenal actor, yet he has little to nothing to work with here. He just comes and goes from the story without much impact. Since there’s not much to connect with in regard to these characters, their deaths have little meaning.

Russell Crowe in Land of Bad (2024).

Russell Crowe has been in a bit of a career resurgence lately, and here is no different. His obsession with his coffee pod maintenance, hatred of vegan food, and chair placement make him stand out. Even more so since he’s acting up against so many characters devoid of personality. But what’s most interesting about Reaper is that the filmmakers can put him in a bit more of an active position in the story. Sure, he’s still back at the military base and is more of a talking head. But by piloting a drone, they’re able to keep him engaged with the story. It’s a great way to utilize an actor of Crowe’s calibre while keeping him an active participant in the story. It also means we get a lot of missiles and explosions.

Director William Eubank is able to bring some energy to the action but there’s a long time waiting for it. Very little happens before the 30-minute mark, and it feels like when there is a burst of action, there needs to be at least 15 minutes to cool down. Then, during the big finale, we cut between tense scenes of torture and Crowe buying groceries. I think my favourite moment is when one of the bad guys charges to get in close despite literally having a gun on him. This is one of many colossally stupid moments that happen in the final 30 minutes. But when the action does happen, it’s well-shot and kinetic.

I can’t believe I’ve made it so far into this review without putting a spotlight on the name Land of Bad. You have to be incredibly confident in the quality of your film even to entertain this title. Unfortunately, the film is a slog to get through, with very few characters to connect with. Crowe’s Reaper is awesome and a massive highlight, but I also question the relevance of his scenes. They could have easily accomplished their goal by showing the tail end of his grocery trip versus the whole thing. It feels like the filmmakers acknowledging Crowe is the only thing working about the film, which is sadly true.

Land of Bad

BELOW AVERAGE

5
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About the Author

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Tyler Nichols is a horror fanatic who resides in Michigan and is always on the hunt for the next great film. When not scouring the internet for movie news, he is usually off watching something dark, writing nonsensical musings, or playing in some fantastical video game world. While horror takes up most of his time, he still makes time for films of all types, with a certain affinity for the strange and unusual. He’s also an expert on all things Comic Book Cinema. In addition to reviews and interviews here on JoBlo.com, Tyler also helps with JoBlo Horror Originals where he’s constantly trying to convince viewers to give lesser-known horror films a chance.