A Blu-Ray for £1! The first (and only so far) that I have seen in Poundland, Battleground is the debut feature from writer/director Neil Mackay and comes in the form of an entertaining action/thriller B-Movie. Fast-paced and action-packed, Battleground plays as a low-budget melding of Predator and The Deer Hunter.
Six bank robbers, led by Mitch (Bryan Larkin), find themselves holed up in an abandoned cabin in the woods after their hesit goes awry. Awaiting extraction their van is stolen and they come across a terrified and distressed woman. It quickly becomes apparent that they are being hunted by someone. Hugh Lambe plays the presence in the forest. A seemingly omnipotent but severely disturbed Vietnam vet who, with a gloriously small amount of back story, is living in the woods killing and mutilating passers by.
Battleground begins in the aftermath of the bank job with a huge nod to Michael Mann’s Heat; a bloodier than necessary heist ends in the robbers escaping in an ambulance. The heist isn’t shown and the action moves straight to the forest where things quickly go awry. The no-nonsense approach serves the film and stops the action getting bogged down in back story. Or plot. The narrative and characterisation are stuffed to bursting point with the tropes of B-Movie past.
All your favourites are here: Wise older crim, strong willed gang-leader, paramilitary weapons expert, damsel in distress and a skin head with prison tattoos. Nothing is being reinvented, there are no enlightening interactions between characters. Almost every conversation revolves around money, or the crazy old guy trying to kill them in the woods. But it doesn’t seem to matter. Lines like “I’ve got business…Personal business.” are rolled out with joyous abandon. Coming in at under 90 minutes the script just about holds together all of these cliches and rattles through to a fairly satisfying conclusion.
The acting is as you’d expect in a B-movie, competent within a script that doesn’t ask for anything above the actors’ pay grade. Hugh Lambe plays the villain with a bizarre, calm menace. The scenes of The Hunter performing field surgery or indulging in a spot of facial flaying show his immense patience, knowledge and concentration.
All analysis really falls apart though with the lack of complexity or depth in Battleground. A fun, entertaining but disposable action/thriller.There is no real push on the nature of the psychological damage of the Vietnam war, or any great attempt to say much at all about anything except that there is one crazy old hippie-looking dude killing tooled-up robbers in the woods.
Director: Neil Mackay
Special Features: None, which is a sore disappointment for a Blu-Ray.