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Disregarding what others have said about "The Badge" I went into it because
I love Billy Bob and had kept track of it during filming, when the original
title had been "Behind the Sun". Seeing that the film went straight to
cable really didn't surprise me, espescially seeing as how this isn't really
for mainstream audiences, but then again, neither was "Monster's Ball".
Anyhow, I'm rambling so let me get to the point here. "The Badge" didn't go
to theaters because certain people felt that Billy Bob's character (Darl)
was too similar to his character Hank in "Monster's Ball". Whatever the
reason, I don't really care. At least I got to see it and I AM thankful for
"The Badge" tells the story of a Louisiana Parish Sheriff who normally doesn't appreciate gays, but has to put aside his predjudices and personal beliefs to solve a murder of a transexual. Sound strange? Well, it is and it isn't. That depends on what kind of person you are. Personally, I found the movie to be quite accurate in showing the deep south for what it really is. The politics were espescially accurate and it was pretty brave of Robby Henson to delve into that matter as deep as he did. Obviously, this movie isn't just about politics, but the southern and small-town mentality as well. How do I know? Well, I was raised there, so I have a good understanding of how things work down there.
Another thing: While some of the characters have been called "comic book" or "stereotypes", they're pretty accurate as well. Much like in Sling Blade, I felt like I knew some of these people. I also found the plot turns and acting to be very well executed. As far as that goes, no one gives a bad performance here.
All that said, "The Badge" is definitely worth a look.
This film never had a chance as a commercial feature, but it should have
been seen in spite of some weak parts. Robby Henson, directing his own
material, proves he can tell a good story. If one adds to this the
atmosphere of crooked politicians in Louisiana, the possibilities are
The film holds one's interest until one realizes who is the person who killed Mona. The director gives a clue while the sheriff is going in a different direction, either voluntarily, or just to tease us. The other thing that is not resolved is the relationship between Darl and Carla, his stranged wife, and with his daughter, who is hanging out with the wrong crowd.
"The Badge" is a much better film than some of the trash that is being shown these days. The film owes a great deal to Billy Bob Thornton, who is the epitome of this rural sheriff. Mr. Thornton acts instinctively; he is a natural and he makes this character his own.
Also notable in the film is Patricia Arquette, who plays Scarlett, the stripper with a heart in its right place. William Devane's character should have been a lot more slimier because that's what we are expecting of him.
Will look forward to the next film by this promising director.
Patricia Arquette and Billy Bob Thorton are at their best in this gritty, quasi-noir crime drama set in Louisiana. Thorton's character is similiar to the one that he played in Monster's Ball. This role however was more sympathetic but not as complex. Arquette is good at playing characters that live on the edge but still manage to be morally strong and honest. She also has an extremely potent sex appeal that is simultaneously mature and girlish. The story is a coplex one with lots of twists and turns. There are secrets in the small town of LaSalle Parrish and they are artfully revealed by the director whose style is a little clunky but engaging nonetheless. I recommend this movie. It's message of tolerance is very important and could not have been more clearly stated.
Anyone who contributes to the blab that Mr Thornton's characterisation
of Darl was too close to his equally excellent characterisation of Hank
in Monster Ball is not really contributing, or thinking very deeply. I
have said as much before and I will say again here; Mr Thornton is the
very best character actor in the US today and one of the best in the
It is no surprise to find a great actor tackling scripts that are well out of the main stream, this shows a thinking caring actor who is prepared to take risks and give more credibility to the work than to the star spin offs.
This movie is not a great one, but it is a very worthwhile experience that is, at least, thought provoking and contains some very fine acting from most of it's cast. The only real problem was the writer/director combination. This is not to say that the writing or the direction was bad, on the contrary, the direction particularly was very sound and the writing was fine though a little too "formular" in its shape. It's nearly always a mistake to direct ones own work, like reading ones own poetry, it becomes very hard to let a line go in an instant, when one is aware of how long it took to birth it. The Badge is fine and has some real strengths, its weakness lies in the denouement where there is the sense of a rather obvious ball being suddenly rushed to the goal post before time runs out for the some what staged final scene.
This work is worth the effort on many fronts, B.B.Thornton is excellent and that woman! what a sterling performance she gives in a very difficult role and against all kinds of odds. If you have not seen this movie and are thinking about it, then do it and do it now!
This film is a solid bit of detective fiction with a Cajun noir flavor to
it. Lots of shady characters trying to manipulate folks in order to keep
sleazy secrets hidden get in the way of a sometimes earnest but morally
mixed-up Louisiana sheriff.
If you like Raymond Chandler's stories, this should prove pleasing. Yes, the film is paced slowly, but as the sheriff in hot water finally realizes the only way to regain his honor (and perhaps his job) is by solving the case, the action picks up. Billy Bob Thornton gives another perfect performance, and Patricia Arquette is stronger than ever. Very nice directorial touches balance storytelling and artistry very well.
A good evening's entertainment.
Billy Bob Thornton plays Darl, a homophobic sheriff in Louisiana who finds
himself trying to solve the murder of a trans-gender lingerie model named
Mona. Mona is survived by his / her wife Scarlett, played by Patricia
At first, Darl is apathetic and indifferent about the case, allowing his
prejudices to cloud is professional duties. Complication matters is the
that the office of sheriff is up for re-election, and the Mayor has
to run another candidate for the job, unseating Darl as he had done to
Darl's father years before.
The movie has an excellent plot, and benefits from strong performances
William Devane (who plays the Mayor) and of course from Thornton himself.
Badge is more than just a who-dunnit. It is also a glimpse into a part of our society that many people never see. Don't miss "The Badge". 8/10
What a sleeper. I mean, until two days ago, I had never heard of this movie before. I rented it not knowing how it would turn out. Pleasantly surprised. Pretty straight forward and to the point, a homophobic local sheriff "stumbles" on a murder investigating a traffic accident. The murdered woman turns out not to be a woman at all, but a he/she. Then this movie takes off like a roller coaster, all of which I will not go into detail (go rent it). Some of the things that these lawmen do is absolutely unbelievable, but that is the fun of this one. It is not to be taken too serious.
They should've tried to let the public view this one in the theatres but I guess it wouldn't have made much success considering Monster's Ball totally overshadowed it. There are a lot of similarities between these 2 movies, not just the fact that BBob Thornton is in both, although he was definitely much better in the former. He pulls in a fine one in this movie, as usual but I wouldn't say it's his best role yet. I don't see Patricia Arquette too often so I don't really know how good an actress she is; in this movie, she's passable. William Devane usually plays the villains but this time, he plays a crooked judge but he doesn't really quite have that evil persona that he usually has. I kind of miss that. The other supporting cast members were rather good especially the real murderer. If you're perceptive enough, you'll probably know it's him somewhere along the movie but if not, just watch to the end. The movie might test your patience and seem like it would end in predictability but just sit it out. It's not a great movie but it's a good one.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
A young, petite female, obviously terrified runs through the Louisiana
Bayou as though she were being pursued by an unseen assailant. An
eighteen wheeler sails down the dark road. Suddenly, the young female
races across the road in front of the truck. The driver skids to avoid
hitting her and truck jackknifes and turns over in a ravine.
Sheriff Billy Bob Thornton, bleary-eyed from a night of boozing, arrives on the scene. He and his deputy find the body of the young female laying nearby in the ravine. She's dead, but not from the truck. She has a 22 slug in her.
To reveal more would ruin a compelling, well acted story of intrigue, sexual ambiguity and political cover-up. However, the only way to fairly review 'The Badge' (terrible title) is to point out some of its flaws and that requires spoilers.
The medical examiner discovers that, in regards to the female victim, 'the lady is no lady'. He's a borderline transgender, that is, his breasts are feminine but he still male sex organs. Here in lies the beginnings of the movie's deepest flaw, because this shemale is legally married to Patricia Arquette. Since, at least at the time of the release of 'The Badge', same sex marriage was illegal in Louisiana, Arquette MUST be a FEMALE. Billy Bob would KNOW that, but still anguishes over his attraction to Arquette, not sure she's a woman. Shemale or not, Billy Bob's attraction to Patricia Arquette is pretty understandable, since Patricia, like her sister Roseanna, has those world class 'knockout body' genes. Most heterosexual males would be turned on by since they're looking at the 'appearance package' and not 'checking out the interior.' If Arquette's shemale husband wanted to 'go all the way' with the sex change, what's he doing with Arquette?
END OF SPOILERS
Perhaps the worse aspect of 'The Badge' is it's overly optimistic ending. Most of us would like troubles to be wrapped up in such neat little packages, but they virtually never are.
However, 'The Badge' can be highly praised for one of its 'Playboy philosophy' truths. Organized religion to the contrary, sex is about a whole hell of a lot more than procreation. Perhaps the BEST attribute of sex is that is the most dramatic method to display intimacy and affection for another person. If this were not true, all those 'righteous, religious' married couples who cannot conceive but continue to have sex would be committing sin. Perhaps just as importantly, if sex can thus be disconnected from procreation, does it really matter what kind of sex it is? Isn't it more important that the two people care about each other and are not just using each others bodies?
'The Badge' boasts fine performances by Thornton, Arquette and Thomas Hayden Church as Billy Bob's brother. Despite it's flaws, 'The Badge' is good for a '6'. See it, whether you are open minded or not. It might just help you become so.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The Badge is a bit of a mixed bag. It's quite interesting as a
ground-level look at the culture of corruption in pre-Katrina Louisiana
and there's some human realism in its story of a simple man dealing
with his complicated life. But the mystery that runs through this film
is really put together out of spit and bailing wire and the story as a
whole starts out reasonably smart, then gets dumber and dumber and
dumber as it goes along until hitting an ending that's like something a
4th grader would come up with.
Darl Hardwick (Billy Bob Thornton) is the good ole' boy sheriff of LeSalle Parish in rural Louisiana. He's got an alcoholic burnout for a father (Tom Bower), an ex-wife (Sela Ward) who's the county District Attorney and a daughter that dresses like a goth stripper. Darl likes to drink and then sleep it off in his truck. He's also more of a peace officer than an agent of law enforcement, meaning he sees the job of sheriff as being more about things like chasing off the kids who are loitering in front of the local grocery store and not about investigating crimes. As sheriff, Darl is also a cog in the parish's political machine. He's answerable to The Judge (William Devane), the richest and most powerful man in the local Democratic Party, but Darl is free to indulge in whatever little graft he can.
Darl's life in LeSalle Parish is disturbed when he and his deputies discover a dead woman in a ditch. They're disturbed even more when the woman turns out to be a transgendered man. Darl isn't all that interested in finding out who killed what he considers a "freak", even after the man's wife, Scarlett (Patricia Arquette), shows up demanding justice. When The Judge makes it clear that he wants the whole thing hushed up because it might affect his plans to open a new casino, Darl is ready to let the whole matter drop. But then he finds out the Democratic Party is kicking him off the ticket and running his black deputy for Sheriff. That makes Darl a little more interested in what happened to his transgendered murder victim. Then Darl gets framed for statutory rape by the local powers-that-be, and that makes him very interested in finding the killer.
Teaming up with Scarlett and getting an assist from his estranged brother (Thomas Haden Church), Darl uncovers a sordid tale of political intrigue that reaches all the way up to the governor himself and the even more seedy reason for the murder of Scarlett's husband. By this point in the film, things begin to get very stupid, very quickly, so I'll stop right here.
I enjoyed the way The Badge depicted the commonplace, unquestioned venality and crookedness of life in LeSalle Parish. Louisiana has been renowned for its relaxed attitude toward ethics, good government and the law for long time and this movie shows you what that means at the local level, with public officials who don't think twice about enriching themselves and always make sure to spread a little around to keep everybody else happy. LeSalle Parish is kind of like a bayou North Korea; a closed society that runs things the way they've always been run and doesn't cotton to outsiders.
Darl Hardwick is a part of that world and it's a part of him. He's not exactly happy, but he's comfortable and he doesn't think more than that is possible. Billy Bob Thornton does a good job portraying Darl with honesty. He's not a good person or a bad person. He's somebody who does moderately good things and moderately bad things without knowing enough or caring to distinguish between the two. Darl is the sort of man you condemn when looking at him from the outside, without ever being able to understand him.
Unfortunately, as the movie rolls on it casts Darl as more and more of a generic noir hero. That robs the character of his uniqueness and Thornton appears to become bored with the role and just goes through the motions. None of the other characters are given enough to do to make any impression on the audience, one way or the other.
And the mystery of the transgendered murder victim is well, pathetic is the best word to describe it. It's the classic case of having every clue point in one direction and then throwing in a twist that completely changes things. The problem is that the twist involves people simply telling Darl what all the answers are while he stands there with the proverbial thumb up his butt. And those answers are things that neither Darl nor the audience could have figured out before hand because they're pulled in out of left field with nothing shown in the movie to support them. And the one question that isn't specifically cleared up for Darl is one the audience has figured out before the film is halfway over.
The Badge does have a smattering of female nudity and Patricia Arquette in a thong, which added to its other virtues should have made this a decent movie. But its flaws are so noticeable, that it's impossible to know how anyone will respond to this film. I like and I can imagine someone else enjoying it even more. However, I can also imagine someone thinking The Badge is garbage and being justified in thinking so. So if you're thinking about renting this DVD, flip a coin. You might get lucky or you might not.
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