Bad Lands (2023) – Movie Review

While it has a bit of a slow start, once “Bad Lands” gets into the personal drama of its lead with others, it picks up quickly.


Community Rating: 75% (1 votes)

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The Bad Lands restaurant

Plot Summary

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It has been three years since Neri returned to Osaka after living in Tokyo. Because of her former life with a man named Goya, she lost her hearing in one ear and was so desperate for protection that she even reconciled with her reviled father Takagi – a well-known and well-connected con man.

But, despite her past, she created a stable present, and there were talks of Takagi grooming her for a lucrative future. However, when her stepbrother Yashiro shows up, everything changes, and Neri is forced to think fast and draw upon the community she has made, including a man named Mandala, if she wants a life post-Yashiro’s return.

General Information

Director(s)

Masato Harada

Screenplay By

Masato Harada

Based On Work By

Hiroyuki Kurokawa

Distributor(s)

Netflix

Date Released

December 29, 2023

How To Watch

Netflix

Genre(s)

Action, Crime, Drama, Young Adult, Non-English (Japanese)

Film Length

2 Hours 23 Minutes

Content Rating

Rated TV-MA

Noted Characters and Cast

Neri

Sakura Ando

Goya

Yasushi Fuchikami

Takagi

Katsuhisa Namase

Yashiro

Ryôsuke Yamada

Mandala

Ryudo Uzaki

Hayashida

SaringROCK

Content Rating Explanation

  • Dialog: Cursing Throughout
  • Violence: Gun Violence, blood, domestic abuse, knife violence
  • Sexual Content: Nothing Notable
  • Miscellaneous: Drinking

Character Descriptions

Please Note: This character guide is not an exhaustive list of every cast member, and character descriptions may contain what can be considered spoilers.

Neri (Sakura Ando)

Neri (Sakura Ando) having lunch with one of her recruits
Neri (Sakura Ando) having lunch with one of her recruits

A young woman who lived a challenging life, survival for her has been based on street smarts for while educated enough to work for an international company formerly, she learned better to work with bad people who don’t hide their wrongdoing than those who do.

  • The actor is also known for their role in “Monster.”

Goya (Yasushi Fuchikami)

The head of a macro-investment firm, Goya is Neri’s ex-boyfriend and the worst kind of man imaginable.

Takagi (Katsuhisa Namase)

Takagi (Katsuhisa Namase) annoyed with Neri
Takagi (Katsuhisa Namase) annoyed with Neri

Takagi is Neri’s biological father, who was the villain of her story for most of her life. Only recently, after a degrading experience, has he slightly become the type of father she needs.

Yashiro (Ryôsuke Yamada)

Yashiro (Ryoske Yamada) working a scam with his sister
Yashiro (Ryoske Yamada) working a scam with his sister

Yashiro is Neri’s brother via sharing a household growing up, which was abusive.

Mandala (Ryudo Uzaki)

Mandala is Takagi’s former partner, who handled his money until he began to suffer from a mental decline, partly attributed to his drinking problem.

Hayashida (SaringROCK)

Hayashida (SaringROCK) teasing Yashiro
Hayashida (SaringROCK) teasing Yashiro

Hayashida runs one of the Yakuza’s gambling dens and is well-versed in money laundering through cryptocurrency.

Review


Community Rating: 75% (1 votes)


Our Rating: Positive (Worth Seeing)

Highlights

Once The Movie Gets Past How Cons Are Done, It Picks Up Quickly

Once Yashiro pops up, things get interesting for those watching, and the idea of watching this for over two hours doesn’t seem so bad. I say this due to the whole catcher, baseman, scamming old people portion of the film; it brings little to no intrigue since there isn’t any flare or feelings of insight to the point of you understanding how that works. Add in the cops don’t give the criminal operation any oomph, and it makes a small but notable part of the beginning a chore to watch.

However, once all players are introduced and the types of crimes they commit, things begin to pick up as you learn about everyone’s relationship to each other and their history, and then Yashiro shows up. He represents the turning point in the film, for he shakes things up in Neri’s world.

At the point where we meet her, she is stable and keeps her head down, though she does have some cautious curiosity about Takagi’s operation and what else can be done. However, Yashiro, who seemingly never recovered from their traumatic childhood, creates enough chaos to shake the film up but not to turn this into something ridiculous.

Rather, it makes it feel like the foundation set early on will be built off of as certain characters, like Mandala, have to come to the front of the stage. Then, as a change of pace, no one truly confronts who did what. Like in real life, they move forward while the issue lingers in the back of people’s heads. Yet, when there is an opportunity to strike, you see it happen, and sometimes it is shocking; other times, it is satisfying.

Either way, it gets you hooked and makes this not feel as long as its time length is.

The Intrigue Hayashida Brings

Some characters, like Neri, are intriguing because we’re given an immense backstory filled with tragedy, learning survival tactics, and comebacks. Others, like Hayashida, are intriguing just because of how they move and look and the mystery surrounding them.

From what we learned, Hayashida is part of the Yakuza, handles some of their high-stakes gambling, and potentially laundering money as well. But, she is a hidden gem of sorts. She isn’t involved in the complications of Yashiro and Neri ruining a lot of lives, partly by accident. Also, they make it seem she is smart enough to be connected but not connectable to some of the easier-to-apprehend members of the family.

But, each time she is on screen, interacting with Yashiro or Neri, there is just something there you can imagine more of, be it their own film or just the feeling that there is a tease there. For with the majority of the women we see in the film, Neri included, being survivors of domestic abuse, if not assault, at worse, sexism at best, it’s difficult not to want the story of the one woman who seemingly has avoided all that.

Good If You Like

  • Crime dramas that aren’t dark and broody

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Bad Lands (2023) – Movie Review

Summary

While setting things up, “Bad Lands” can feel like a questionable commitment, once things get rolling and the drama kicks in, you’ll be committed to the full-time length, and when it comes to some characters, you’ll want more.

Overall
82%
82%
  • Once The Movie Gets Past How Cons Are Done, It Picks Up Quickly - 81%
    81%
  • The Intrigue Hayashida Brings - 83%
    83%

Highlight(s)

  • The Intrigue Hayashida Brings
  • Once The Movie Gets Past How Cons Are Done, It Picks Up Quickly

Disputable

  • N/A

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