Badland may have seemed less derivative were it not for the decision to ape its title after Terrence Malick’s Badlands, a great film this flimsy wartime diatribe calls out to in hopes of claiming its own legitimacy (it may be unfair to judge any film purely by means of such superficial similarities, but it’s telling that the director-screenwriter’s previous credit was the satire 2001: A Space Travesty). Jerry (Jamie Driven) returns home to his poverty-stricken life after being discharged from his post in Iraq, his unit scapegoated (so as to save the careers of their superiors) after their involvement in an inadvertent bloodbath. Wartime trauma and mounting stress at work and home soon drive him to the point of a violent rampage against his loved ones, one that only his daughter Celina (Grace Fulton) survives. By not probing into the cause of its lead character’s streak of trigger-happy violence, Badlands said far more about the nature of violence than Badland could ever hope to, its somewhat-impressive visual palate regularly offset by the need to drill home its unenlightening message of “war is bad.” These moments of thematic exposition represent a layman’s approach to coping with the unimaginable horrors of living in a world where even your so-called leaders don’t give a shit about you (something that required the botched War on Terror for many people in this country to realize), so it’s easier to forgive the film’s sometimes simplistic approach to this heavy material than it is to ignore its totally shrill emotional manipulations, which come in twisty-turny droves by film’s end. Until the mess in the Middle East has found its way to a resolution, we can continue to expect films like Badland as part of the collateral damage in the War on Terror.
- Copex Distribution
- 160 min
- Francesco Lucente
- Francesco Lucente
- Jamie Draven, Grace Fulton, Vinessa Shaw, Joe Morton, Chandra West
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