A little too slick to be the next great action film and not funny enough to be dark comedy, this over produced bullet fest barely keeps going for its 98 minutes.
Academy Award winner Billy Bob Thornton and Golden Globe winner Eva Longoria participate in a classic straight-on Southern shoot fest that, unfortunately, gives up most of its screen time to, well, shooting.
The three Oodie brothers (gotta love that name) are home-fried muscle men who make small change bringing errant crooks to their right minds. In so-doing, they make the world safe for drug dealers, smugglers and a broad spectrum of underworld types, all trying make a decent, if dishonest, living in the southern USA.
The three sibs, Brick (Clayne Crawford---“24,” “The Glades”), McQueen (Travis Fimmel—“The Beast”) and Lincoln (Isn’t everything about Lincoln these days?---Daniel Cudmore, X-Men” and “Twilight Saga”) have marginal back-stories that are treated marginally.
After all, there is not a lot of time for story here, since the producer came up with about a hundred thousand rounds of ammunition that sure as heck ain’t gonna shoot itself.
Celeste (Longoria) has a problem with her dirty, good for nothing husband ‘Carlos (Thornton), in that he has shot her three times in the gut and kidnapped and run off with her son. Therefore, she hires the brothers to bring back her son alive and Carlos, dead.
Thornton channels Steve Buscemi as the bad guy who you just have to love. He is bad to the bone and yet he is so awesomely handsome and articulate that you know this is going to be a great shoot out. The three bad but effective brothers against the charismatic Carlos.
The film is billed as a dark comedy, as it should be. The characters themselves are transparent composites of every ignorant thug that walked the earth. The good news is that they are so transparent and exaggerated that the audience knows from the start that are cartoons and so is not going to take them seriously. This is the same with all the characters.
In giving up on any sort of personal trajectories, all that is left is the gunplay, road warrior shootouts and the kidnapped boy Rob (Thomas Brodie-Sangster) who is crippled and wheelchair bound for the entire film.
Although the action is great, the lack of personality to the characters and the exploitative nature of the rescue mission immediately clamps a B movie glass ceiling on this flick. That is as good as it can possibly get.
As far as dark comedy goes, filmmakers Barry Battles and Griffin Hood are a country mile from getting anything close to dark comedy in the screenplay (although the Native American biker gang with the bows and arrows comes close). These are just beer commercial guys with enough ordnance to invade Iran and a couple very tacky vehicles. How far can a film like this go?
Good production, great stunts and a rocking sound track keep the action going like an MTV video gone mad. The sound track even includes a long cut from “Free Bird” in an effort to either take the minds of the audience off the repetitive sequences or, perhaps, mick anyone who might be inclined to take the whole thing too seriously.
Confederate flag apparel keep the audience from ever taking the characters seriously, thereby freeing up the minds of the viewers to concentrate on the gunplay, which involves every firearm invented by man except the 17th century Dutch blunderbuss.
The cinematography is fine, but the digital quality is bad, perhaps intentionally, adding to the drive-in feeling of the movie.
As the characters thumb their noses at respectability, the flakey off-kilter digital anomalies thumb their noses at anybody in the audience who might be include towards snobbery. This is raw violence, folks. Get used to it.
In the end, a lot of blood is lost but most everybody comes out of the fray OK. Another smokeless powder plant somewhere is kept in business for at least one more Hollywood season, jobs are saved and the brothers are, more or less, ready for the next action extravaganza.
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Directed by: Barry Battles
Written by: Barry Battles and Griffin Hood
Starring: Billy Bob Thornton, Eva Longoria and Thomas Brodie-Sangster
Release Date: January 11, 2013
MPAA: Rated R for strong bloody violence, pervasive language, some sexual and drug content
Run Time: 98 minutes