Blu-ray Review: “Bad Country” Is A Terrific Thriller With First-Rate Performances

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Review by James McDonald

When Baton Rouge police detective Bud Carter busts contract killer Jesse Weiland, he convinces Jesse to become an informant and rat out the South’s most powerful crime ring. So when the syndicate orders Carter’s death and Weiland’s ID’d as a snitch, the two team up to take down the mob and the crime boss who ordered the hit.

“Bad Country” tells the story of Bud Carter (Willem Dafoe), a Baton Rouge detective who nabs Jesse Weiland (Matt Dillon), a contract killer who works for one of Louisiana’s biggest crime bosses, Mr. Lutin (Tom Berenger). Jesse reluctantly agrees to become Carter’s informant on the inside for one reason and one reason only: to protect his wife and newborn son. He agrees to turn Lutin over on the condition that he and his family will go into witness protection where they can start a new life. Carter agrees and has the backing of his department and Jesse informs them that there is also a list with names on it that Lutin plans on taking out, members of their police force, high-ranking members of congress, local officials and they tell him that he will have to try and retrieve it for them.

Lutin puts Jesse in charge of a weapons exchange with some Libyans and all seems to be going well until the F.B.I. turns up with both sides shooting at each other. Jesse and his men barely get away but Lutin wants to know how the F.B.I. knew what was going down. He eventually finds out that Carter is on the case and he sends Jesse to take him out. When he gets to Carter’s house, he tells him that they’ve been made and when they try to escape, more of Lutin’s men are there. Both men manage to get away but Lutin is able to track down the police who are protecting Jesse’s wife and son and has their car blown up. When Carter informs Jesse, he escapes and finds out that Lutin is traveling to New Orleans and it is here, that the inevitable showdown between the two men is determined.

Director Chris Brinker has assembled a terrific cast who each turn in powerful characterizations. In recent years, Mr. Dillon has become synonymous with independent film and here, he gives one of his very best performances. Because of the birth of his son, he decides to concentrate on living a new life with his family but his old ways eventually catch up with him. Although Carter initially despises Jesse for the kind of person he is, he comes to respect him as he realizes that he’s not only putting his own life on the line but that of his entire family too. Mr. Dafoe shines in a compelling performance which is one of his finest in years. It was great watching him and Berenger go head to head together again, evocative of their character clashes in Oliver Stone’s “Platoon”.

The old saying is that you don’t mess with a man’s family, irregardless of what line of work you occupy so when Jesse finds out that his family is gone, the look of despair and helplessness on his face is enough to move you to tears but that look quickly changes and we then see a man who has nothing left to live for. And that’s not good for Lutin. Even though Jesse’s past was that of a cold-blooded killer, when he enters the hotel that Lutin is occupying, you root for him. You almost expect for him to die, as this is the norm for a lot of movies today but you want him to find Lutin first and make him pay for what he did. It’s been a long time since an actor played a bad guy so ruthlessly and menacingly, that I personally wanted to kill him myself but Mr. Berenger has made a career out of playing sadistic bad guys. Highly recommended.

In stores April 29th

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James McDonald
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