Register  |   Log In  |  
Sign up to our weekly newsletter    
Search   
Empire Magazine and iPad
Follow Me on Pinterest YouTube Tumblr
Empire
Trending On Empire
Empire's New Tom Cruise Cover
The Jameson Empire Awards 2014
Vote: The Greatest 301 Movies Of All Time!
Rebecca Hall:
My Movie Life

The actress picks the movies that shaped her
Mountain Dew Green Screen
Register Now to see X-MEN First Class!
Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

FILM DETAILS
Certificate
18
Cast
Martin Sheen
Sissy Spacek
Warren Oates
Ramon Bieri.
Directors
Terrence Malick.
Screenwriters
Terrence Malick.
Running Time
94 minutes

LATEST DVD REVIEWS
Muppets From Space
3 Star Empire Rating
Fargo
5 Star Empire Rating
Dead Of Night
5 Star Empire Rating
Orca: The Killer Whale
1 Star Empire Rating
Descent, The
4 Star Empire Rating



5 STAR REVIEWS
Fargo
5 Star Empire Rating
Dead Of Night
5 Star Empire Rating
Wake In Fright
5 Star Empire Rating
Seven Samurai
5 Star Empire Rating
Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug, The
5 Star Empire Rating

Badlands
Terrence Malick's seminal killer-couple-on-the-run movie.


submit to reddit


Plot
A fictionalised account of the Charles Starkweather murders as a quietly psychotic garbageman and his daydreaming girlfriend take to the road after killing her father.


Review
At the heart of Terrence Malick's astonishing debut - a fictionalised account of Charles Starkweather's 1950s killing spree - is a trio of paradoxes.

The film is a meditation on the banality of evil, but features an incredibly handsome and charismatic protagonist in Martin Sheen's psychotically self-deluded garbage man, Kit.

His relationship with lonely schoolgirl Holly (Sissy Spacek) is depicted as disturbing and mutually destructive, yet granted genuinely romantic interludes - including a moonlight smooch to the sound of Nat King Cole.

And the natural world - typically for Malick - is painted as a thing of idyllic beauty, yet constantly corrupted with stark images of dead animals, fallen trees and, of course, the bullet-riddled bodies of Kit's victims.

Such confident complexity is beyond the reach of lesser movies - the superficially similar Bonnie And Clyde feels, well, superficial in comparison. For all the heat generated by that film's blood-spattered shootouts, its stylised brutality pales next to the sudden bouts of violence which occur whenever Kit is backed into a corner.

His sense of Southern good manners - calling his victims "Sir", asking humbly, "Suppose I shot you, how'd that be?" - makes the crimes all the more chilling.

Both central performances are amazing, but only Spacek went on to become one of the most in-demand stars of the '70s. Apocalypse Now aside, Sheen had to wait until becoming a middle-aged character actor before roles worthy of his talent came along. Observant fans of The West Wing, however, may notice that Kit snaps on his denim jacket in the same over-the-shoulder, both-arms-at-once way in which President Bartlet dons a tux.


Extras

Badlands Badlands
Released: 26 May 2003
No sign of the notoriously reclusive Malick, though his two cameos in the film itself are highlighted in a mini documentary.

Interviews with the two stars are warmly anecdotal rather than insightful, with Spacek having particular reason to remember the shoot fondly. It was here she met art director Jack Fisk and, 30 years later, they’re still a couple. True romance indeed.


Verdict
Achingly evocative of a time when Hollywood had the courage to invest in complex and morally ambiguous films and an indisputable masterpiece of American cinema.


Reviewed by Rob Fraser

Write Your Review
To write your review please login or register.

Your Reviews

Average user rating for Badlands
Empire Star Rating

"I can't deny we've had fun... and that's more than some can say."

At once a compelling meditation on the senselessness of violence and a poignant study of a romance tainted by circumstance, Badlands is a stark and chilling masterpiece that remains among the most spellbinding and subtly moving achievements ever put to celluloid. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by movienut707 at 01:38, 12 November 2013 | Report This Post


One hell of a film!

This is American cinema at its best. A really Great Movie! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by nc_jj at 20:44, 05 April 2010 | Report This Post


BRILLIANT

Is it just me or is most of "TRUE ROMANCE" ripped from this? ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by bobbyperu at 15:40, 28 November 2007 | Report This Post


A serial killer film that only Malick could deliver, Badlands is a romantic, poetic and contrasting masterclass in mood and atmosphere. Spacek and Sheen are incredible as the strangely apathetic killers, and Sheen's character is one of the finest to ever grace the silver screen. Deluded, iconic and calmly pshcotic, Kit is a fantastic creation and entrancing to watch. Combined with Spacek's disarmingly distant naif, the film is a wondeful interpretation of youth's angst and confusion, and of its ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Grandma Death at 15:10, 25 June 2006 | Report This Post



CURRENT HIGHLIGHTS
The Making Of Locke: A Filmmaker's Journey
Steven Knight takes us through six pitstops (via Heston Services)

The 10 Most Exciting Movies At Cannes 2014
Empire's pick of the Croisette's finest

Tom Hardy: A Viewer's Guide
The essential, the recommended, the one for the fans... and the one to avoid

Ten Things To Know About The Spooks Movie
Under the hood of The Greater Good

Who’s In Spider-Man’s Sinister Six?
A bluffer’s guide to the planned spin-off from the Amazing Spider-films

14 YouTube Videos Every Game Of Thrones Fan Should Have Watched By Now
From goats singing the theme tune to every death in under three minutes

Hollywood's Biggest Names On Their Favourite Films
Stars and directors like Nolan, Whedon, Wright and Ford on the films that inspire them

Subscribe to Empire iPad edition
Get The Empire iPad Edition Today

Subscribe and save money on annual digital subscription

Subscribe today
Buy single issues

Subscribe to Empire magazine
Get Limited Edition Collectable X-Men Art Cards

Subscribe today and get 6 issues of Empire plus a set of collectable X-Men Art Cards for only £20!

Subscribe today

Get 12 Issues Of Empire For Just £25
Receive limited edition subscribers-only covers every month Subscribe today!
Empire's Film Studies 101 Series
Everything you ever wanted to know about filmmaking but were afraid to ask...
The Empire iPad Edition
With exclusive extras, interactive features, trailers and much more! Download now
Home  |  News  |  Blogs  |  Reviews  |  Future Films  |  Features  |  Interviews  |  Images  |  Competitions  |  Forum  |  iPad  |  Podcast  |  Magazine Contact Us  |  Empire FAQ  |  Subscribe To Empire  |  Register
© Bauer Consumer Media Ltd  |  Legal Info  |  Privacy Policy  |  Bauer Entertainment Network
Bauer Consumer Media Ltd (company number 01176085 and registered address 1 Lincoln Court, Lincoln Road, Peterborough, England PE1 2RF)