Bad Country

Year 2014

Tom Berenger as Lutin Adams
Kevin Chapman as  Morris
Willem Dafoe as Bud Carter
Matt Dillon as  Jesse Weiland
Bill Duke as Nokes
John Edward Lee   as  Catfish Stanton
Chris Marquette as Martin Fitch
Neal McDonough as   Kiersey
Amy Smart as Lynn Weiland
Don Yesso as  Captain Bannock
Director - Chris Brinker
Screenwriters - Jonathan Hirschbein  

Bad Country is the story of how a police inspector and an informant take down organized crime in Louisiana in 1983. At first, it's so real that you believe that you're watching a dramatization of actual events. But, this sense of realism slips away as the movie continues. By the end you still care but you know you're watching fiction.

There are a couple of side stories that never amount to anything either.

So, the question is, "Is the film flawed due to inexperience or due to too large of a scope for the film?"

Well, let's look to inexperience. It was Chris Brinker's first film as a director. It was also Jonathan Hirschbein's first full-length movie script. No one scores a perfect ten right out of the gate. No one. Not even Shakespeare. So, this movie suffered from being a training ground for two talented but nonetheless green behind the camera members.

On a side note, Chris Brinker passed away shortly after completing the film, so his maiden voyage is his only voyage. Which is too bad. He died young and did not have a chance to fulfill his potential. This movie is loaded with potential.

It's also loaded with talent. Who'd have thought that Bill Duke in the small role of Attorney General Nokes would steal the movie from the likes of Dafoe and Dillon? If this were a bigger movie, Bill Duke should be nominated for a Best Supporting Actor award. He was that good and essential in this movie. The guy who looks sick because his eyes have such dark circles and whose tailor seem to never be around managed to dominate his scenes.

That's not to say Dafoe is bad. He's good but seems a little too comfortable in the role of Bud Carter. His character lacked depth even though there was supposed to be some sort of tie in between his estrangement from his father and his point of view. This connection never came together.

Neither did the connection between Jesse Weiland (Dillon) and Carter. Carter's going all out to protect Weiland but there's no reason why. Maybe because Carter's father abandoned him? The association isn't clear.

Matt Dillon does a mostly great job as the contract killer turned informer Weiland. His justification for changing sides is sound and he never comes across as a traitor. He's just an independent operator putting his family first. Who'd have thought Matt Dillon, bulked up with muscle and a full set of mustaches could be so credibly imposing?

Side note - one of the deleted scenes shows that the picture playing in a neighborhood cinema in 1983 is The Outsiders.

Everyone does a good job with their roles. Tom Beringer, who can't do justice to any speech of more than two sentences, doesn't have to in this movie. He's quite convincing as Lutin Adams. Heck, he even has the best accent.

For Dillon and Dafoe, accents come and go. Sometimes Dafoe even sounds as if he's from New Jersey.

To understand what's wrong with the movie, it needs to be explained in more detail. A small arrest by Carter leads to a bigger arrest. The bigger arrest, that of Weiland, could mean catching an even bigger fish because Weiland is close to the big boss, Lutin Adams. For this, the FBI is called in. They participate reluctantly even after Weiland starts giving them hard evidence. Then FBI rushes things just to be done with it and the strategy backfires. Weiland loses his family and pursues Lutin on his own. In the shadows, Carter is covering Weiland's back. Finally, there's the big showdown.

The first, "Huh?" moment came after Weiland was released on bail. Lutin kept tabs on Weiland's family while he was being held for trial but once he was out, the oversight disappeared. So, Weiland could show the police where bodies were buried without Lutin even knowing. Hard to believe, but maybe it could be accepted.

Then came Weiland's safe cracking job while out on bail. If I understand how this whole informant thing works, any crime committed while working as an informant is the same as a crime committed as if you're not an informant. You can get arrested, do time, et cetera. This kind of thing can even void the agreement. This fact is ignored in the movie. It made me think that maybe this movie wasn't trying to be true-to-life.

There were two things that the movie relied upon that failed to convince. The first was, why was Carter so willing to give his full support to Weiland? Weiland was a killer and thief. Yet Carter backed Weiland from the start. This needed to be explored. Just by doing this, it would have made for a better movie.

The second thing was how Carter tracked Lutin from Baton Rouge to New Orleans. In one day, Carter's team located Lutin's meeting place and set up surveillance without the help of the New Orleans police department. Fat chance all the way around. The deleted scenes fill in some of the gaps, but they weren't in the movie so this major unexplained plot point completely severed any thread of credibility within the movie. The start of the movie was leisurely and well constructed. The end was rushed and a hodgepodge. This even extended to the music which was great and representative of Louisiana blues at the beginning and mediocre and nondescript at the end.

It's not a bad movie. It's just not that original, except for the cool mustaches. It looked like it was trying to break out of the mold on occassion, but then fell back into the old "revenge for killing my family" schtick. That's too bad.

So was the final knife fight. It did not convince.

It's not a bad movie to watch. You can only hope for better things from Jonathan Hirschbein. There's violence, profanity, and brief nudity. Violent emotions can be intense, so there's little chick flick potential.

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