Bad Country Blu-ray Review

“Depending on what kind of man you were, there’s really only one thing you’d better know: cops got rules, criminals don’t. And if you up and cross that line, it just might cost you your life. Welcome to Dixie.”

Bud Carter (Willem Dafoe, OUT OF THE FURNACE), with his tough, worn face and mean, untrim mustache, sits in a dark room, laying out a plan that sounds like it could net a lot of money. He lights a cigarette and is soon after found out for what he really is: a cop.

Matt Dillon in Bad Country

He’s led to Jesse Weiland (Matt Dillon, THE ART OF THE STEAL), a key member of the crime ring and the proud owner of an extensive rap sheet. “I’m gonna make bail,” Weiland tells his captor. Carter knows the operation goes deeper than what his department’s seen and introduces a different plan: have Weiland, who has himself, a wife (Amy Smart, COLUMBUS CIRCLE) and a kid to save, turn informant and lead him to the top.

The top is a man named Lutin (Tom Berenger, who first appeared onscreen with Dafoe in Oliver Stone’s PLATOON). It’s when Lutin tries to determine the fates of both men that things really start to feel like, as the opening monologue states, “hell with the lid off.”

Matt Dillon in Bad Country

BAD COUNTRY (also known as WHISKEY BAY, for no apparent reason) marks both the first and last directorial effort of Chris Brinker, who served as a producer on THE BOONDOCK SAINTS and its 2009 sequel, ALL SAINTS DAY, and died suddenly at the age of 42 while the movie was in post-production. One might think the BAD COUNTRY’s flaws may stem from the “unfinished” aspect of the production, but when watching the movie, it’s obvious the issues originated in the screenplay (by Jonathan Hirschbein, working with a story by himself, Tom Abernathy, Mike Barnett and Don “Bud” Connor; this is Hirchbein’s first feature-length script).

Matt Dillon in Bad Country

The general idea of the two men on opposite sides of the law teaming up has been done countless times, and the writers and director have made little effort to make their take stand out other than by throwing in occasional shots of Louisiana swamps.

One strong aspect of the movie is the cast. Willem Dafoe, Matt Dillon and Tom Berenger are all capable actors when given the right material (Dafoe is at his best when working with Lars von Trier, Dillon played a fine “Bukowski” in FACTOTUM, Berenger was terrific in History’s HATFIELDS & MCCOYS miniseries)—but it’s clear this is not the right material. This is a weak screenplay with thin, clichéd characters that don’t allow the actors to do anything except test out accents (however misguided—Berenger’s sounds exaggerated and like a mimic of a cartoon character).

Matt Dillon in Bad Country

BAD COUNTRY isn’t nearly as tough as its title wants the viewer to think it is. It expects the viewer to ignore the qualities that call to mind direct-to-video action-thrillers so it can get by on sweat, shootouts and handlebar mustaches.

BAD COUNTRY BLU-RAY REVIEW

Video: 1.78:1 in 1080p with MPEG-4 AVC codec. This is a fairly strong high-definition transfer that, while not heavy on depth, offers fine details, textures and tones throughout.

Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio; French 5.1 Dolby Digital. Subtitles in English and French. The audio transfer is also quite good, with clean dialogue and powerful gunfire.

Taking Down an Empire: On the Set (11:53): This featurette uses clips, on-set footage and interviews (with Willem Dafoe, writer Jonathan Hirschbein and more) to give an overview of BAD COUNTRY’s production.

Deleted Scenes (7:53): There are seven here, which can be viewed separately or as a whole. They are: “Bud Talks to Prison Guard,” “Jesse Dreams of Lynn,” “Bud’s Birthday Present,” “Bud Loses It in Bar,” “Lutin Packs Money,” “Bud Watches and Follows” and “Bud Trails Jacket to Bill.”

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