In a time where people are confined to their homes more than ever, you’d think I’d be banging out film reviews left and right. Instead, I’ve actually taken the extra free time that has come my way to enjoy some of my other hobbies. Still, I had to return to the fold eventually. Some may be disappointed to see that the return is marked by a non-horror film, but I was in the mood for something quite a bit different tonight. That mood brought me to Justin Lee’s Badland.
More than a decade after the Civil War, Detective Matthias William Breecher is hired to track down a series of war criminals, all sentenced to hang. His journey is met with both danger and intrigue, as the lawman seeks justice against the lawless.
Broken down into chapters, four to be precise, Badland doesn’t take long to introduce its audience to its specific brand of action. Our protagonist, Matthias Breech, played by Kevin Makely, tracks down his first name (Country music star Trace Adkins) on a list of men who are sentenced to pay for their crimes. The meeting quickly turns deadly as the Detective is tested, quickly proving that this man takes his job seriously and has the skill level to get it done properly.
That first chapter, entitled “The General” is rather short and to the point with the next, “The Cookes,” taking a bit longer to reach its resolution, if you can even call it that.
We are introduced to a few new characters along the way, each bringing with them a new obstacle for Mr. Breecher to overcome.
The same can be said for the remaining two chapters — “The Sheriff” and “Breecher”; Each segment taking the stern man of the law further into peril.
I am not well-versed when it comes to Westerns; I do enjoy them from time to time and I’ve recently re-visited one or two of the ones I knew I was a fan of. Because of this, I thought it was high time to give a new title a shot.
While I am unfamiliar with any previous work of Kevin Makely, the cast of Badland did feature enough familiar faces to comfortably take me into my newest foray into the genre.
Veteran actors in their own right, Bruce Dern (Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood, The ‘Burbs), Mira Sorvino (Mimic, The Replacement Killers), Jeff Fahey (Planet Terror, The Lawnmower Man), and most surprisingly, Tony Todd (Candyman) all lent a helping hand to ease the story along.
I won’t sit here and say that any of the performances are award-worthy, but they were more than competent enough to tell their parts of the story without taking me out of the action.
Badland contains all of the Western tropes you would come to expect at this point — bar room brawls, countryside farm houses, and saloon shootouts. This isn’t a bad thing, however.
Writer/director Justin Lee has done a great job delivering a straight-forward story that has heart and enough violence to keep anyone willing to give it a chance entertained. It is heavy on dialogue, but none of that ever slows things down enough to make me lose any of the interest I built throughout the film’s 117 minutes.
Badland is available now on Blu-ray and DVD from Cinedigm. If you are looking for something other than horror in your life and enjoy watching a Western from time to time, perhaps give this one a shot.
I give Badland 4 Cantina shootouts out of 5.