Land of Bad

Director William Eubank’s 2020 Kristen Stewart-starring movie Underwater was no masterpiece, but it at least knew what it wanted to be – namely, an Alien rip-off in the ocean. His latest, Land of Bad, can’t make the same claim. It’s part hardcore action picture, part exercise in military porn, and part comedy. I doubt the Army will be too happy with the film, given that a major plot point rests on the idea that soldiers are too busy watching a basketball game to answer the phone while their colleagues are out in the field conducting a dangerous mission.

Kinney (Liam Hemsworth), codename “Playboy,” is a rookie member of the Delta Force. Together with cohort “Sugar” (Milo Ventimiglia) and others, he’s supposed to carry out an extraction mission in the Philippines. The mission goes south, leaving him surrounded by the enemy. Meanwhile, Air Force drone pilot “Reaper” (Russell Crowe) monitors the situation from the sky and helps him attempt to navigate his way to safety.


The structure of Land of Bad is weird. The movie opens with a supposedly humorous series of jokes about Kinney wanting to take a box of Froot Loops cereal with him on the mission. Once he and the others land, it becomes a military procedural with an endless barrage of generic technical jargon. If you get off on Army lingo, prepare for a euphoric experience. Otherwise, brace for boredom. A few of the action scenes in this section are well-staged, but the story becomes repetitive and rather sadistic in its violence by the end.

That brings us to Russell Crowe, who is used as comic relief half the time. When Reaper isn’t feeding Kinney commands, he’s making wisecracks about his pregnant wife or comically screaming at the soldiers for watching TV. Inexplicably, the movie’s finale intercuts a life-and-death scenario with Reaper doing his shopping. Seeing Kinney fight for survival while Reaper asks a supermarket employee if they have a certain kind of cheese is weird. Crowe also gets saddled with the worst non-cheese related dialogue. Almost every sentence he utters begins with the word “Playboy,” to a point where hearing it becomes grating.

Land of Bad does provide intermittent thrills. The tone is maddeningly all over the place, though. Crowe does his best to make his character lively, but he’s out of place with the proper story, and the Saw-level bloodshed of the third act doesn’t mesh with the more realistic military action of the first two. The film is a chaotic jumble of ideas in search of a point.

out of four

Land of Bad is rated R for strong bloody violence and language throughout. The running time is 1 hour and 50 minutes.

© 2024 Mike McGranaghan