Barely a ripple in this year’s wave of returning Iraq War–veteran dramas (Home of the Brave, In the Valley of Elah, et al.), writer-director Francesco Lucente’s overconfident, emotionally forced 160-minute opus offers trite antiwar platitudes—at best—in chronicling the anguished existence of a soldier who can’t shake the horrors he experienced in Fallujah. After being framed for theft at work, and then discovering that his cruel trailer-trash wife has been stealing from him, disgraced Marine reservist Jerry (Jamie Draven) snaps, shooting the spouse and his two young sons before stopping just shy of killing both his daughter and himself. Now experiencing her own PTSD, precious little Celina (Grace Fulton) has put all her stock in God to bring back Mommy as the two go on the lam and settle in a fresh town. Incessantly scored with the most lachrymose flourishes, and shot almost entirely during magic hour (patting itself on the back with each landscape pan), Badland practically begs “For Your Consideration” without the substance to justify its awards-season epic length. Big Statements come in bursts—from a TV news reporter offering an out-of-left-field lesson on the My Lai massacre, to a drunken monologue by Joe Morton’s traumatized veteran turned sheriff. What sticks in the memory, though, is the ending: a cheap shot as shameful as Redacted‘s, and, if you can believe it, even less nuanced.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on November 20, 2007