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Land of Bad offers enough action for a mild recommendation

Director Wiliam Eubank shifts gear from horror and sci-fi to action in his fifth feature film, "Land of Bad," from The Avenue. Eubanks pens the film's screenplay, which combines elements of the Gene Hackman-led military movies "Bat 21" and "Behind Enemy Lines".

Lieutenant Kinney (Liam Hemsworth), an inexperienced military officer, is swiftly inducted into a critical mission in Southern Asia. This task force, spearheaded by Master Sergeant John 'Sugar' Sweet (Milo Ventimiglia) and inclusive of Sergeants Bishop (Ricky White) and Abel (Luke Hemsworth), is entrusted with the extraction of a valuable C.I.A operative from within a criminal fortress. The operation remains under constant surveillance and communication with drone pilots stationed in Las Vegas - notably Air Force Captain Eddie Grimm 'Reaper' (Russell Crowe) and Staff Sergeant Nia Branson (Chika Ikogwe).

As might be expected under such perilous circumstances, the orderliness unravels unexpectedly due to unforeseen complications forcing Reaper to hold steady contact with Kinney. Lieutenant Kinney faces unforeseen trials as his team's initial extraction plan deteriorates amidst enemy intervention, which leads to seizure control of the compound.

When chaos unfolds, resulting in catastrophic loss amongst ranks of his unit during skirmishes, Lieutenant Kinney must abruptly navigate back through treacherous terrain towards safety. Relying heavily on Reaper's updates regarding hostile movements around him serves as his guidepost while traversing unfamiliar territory.

Like Don Swayze and Frank Stallone, Liam Hemsworth lives in the shadow of his more famous brother. Now, while Liam did have the chance to be one of the leads in "The Hunger Games" franchise, outside of that, he is pretty much a B-List actor. Thankfully, he delivers a worthwhile performance here as an everyman under dire straits.

The film has a strong cast, including Russell Crowe as Reaper and Milo Ventimiglia as Sugar. Ventimiglia fully taps into his action heroics, and I wouldn't mind seeing him in another action flick. Crowe brings fatherly vibes to the drone pilot trying to rescue Kinney. The performances are solid; both men provide rock-solid chemistry with Liam Hemsworth. Land of Bad also portrays the tension and danger of being stuck behind enemy lines.

Sadly, "Land of Bad" lacks depth in its other characters and a predictable plot. The dialogue can also be cheesy at times, and there's a scene in the final act that anyone who has ever served in the military may find totally unrealistic.

Nevertheless, "Land of Bad" is a decent war film with some suspense and excitement. The director's previous films both fell short of being truly memorable, but he shows promise this year.

Fans of war films or stories of survival should give it a look.

Final Grade: B-

 "Land of Bad" is in theaters


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