Review: ‘BADLAND’ – a western gone south.


More than a decade after the Civil War, a nation tries to rebuild as an outlaw faction takes root across the West. Gunslinging detective Matthias Breecher (Kevin Makely) is hired by one of the first African American Senators (Tony Todd) to track down the worst of the Confederate war criminals (Trace Adkins, Bruce Dern and Jeff Fahey), with nothing more than his wits and his revolver. As he roams the Old West seeking justice, his resolve is tested when he meets a determined pioneer woman (Mira Sorvino) who is far more than she seems. As the lawless converge on this lawman, death is inevitable in a terrain that welcomes no stranger.

Badland is a post civil war western written and directed by Justin Lee. The cinematography is perfect for the genre. Typical western tropes of honorable, gun-slinging hero on horseback and trigger-happy villains are what kept me watching. I was admittedly a bit distracted by the formality of the dialogue. It didn’t feel gritty enough for the time period and at points, I thought I was watching a Hallmark movie. While the actors make the best of it, I found it more difficult to fully immerse myself in a genre I typically enjoy. Because of this, Badland played like a stage play. Over the top line readings and slow pacing between dialogue led to an unnatural feel in exchanges. Ironically, I would watch this on a stage! It looks gorgeous from the sets to the costumes. I must give credit to Jeff Fahey in his role as Huxley Wainright. He is most definitely the highlight of this film. He fills the screen with his presence and makes everything work, finally. The story is presented in 4 chapters. I did get my fist fights, shoot outs, and classic love story but ultimately felt like Lee’s script could have used a good editor and another pass.

from Cinedigm, BADLAND opens in theaters and on-demand on November 1st.

Badland stars Kevin Makely (Big Legend), Mira Sorvino (Mighty Aphrodite), Trace Adkins (Hickok, I Can Only Imagine), Bruce Dern (Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood), Tony Todd (The Final Destination), Wes Studi (The Last of the Mohicans) and Jeff Fahey (“Lost”).

Written and directed by Justin Lee, BADLAND is set in the unincorporated areas of the West, where renegade factions have replaced law and order. Co-stars include Amanda Wyss (“Highlander”) and Ryan Kelley (“Teen Wolf”).

About Liz Whittemore

Liz grew up in northern Connecticut and was memorizing movie dialogue from Shirley Temple to A Nightmare on Elm Street at a very early age. She will watch just about any film all the way through (no matter how bad) just to prove a point. A loyal New Englander, a lover of Hollywood, and true inhabitant of The Big Apple.

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