Critic goes “Ick”
There are few films with an instantly arresting hook, but “tourist steps on landmine, and if he moves, he dies” has got to be among the most grabby. But you don’t even need the logline, because the title is one of the all-time greats: Landmine Goes Click. Talk about “You had me at ‘hello.’”
Hapless Chris (Sterling Knight) is holidaying in Georgia (the Eurasian country, not the Southern US state) with girlfriend Alicia (Spencer Locke) and buddy Daniel (Dean Geyer) when the unthinkable happens: he steps on an armed landmine left over from the war, and must stay rooted to the spot as terrible things happen – the worst being having to watch Alicia being subjected to a brutal sexual assault by a local (Kote Tolordava). It’s at this point that, for me, co-writer/director Levan Bakhia stepped on a landmine of his own: depicting the rape in a dismayingly raw, two minutes and forty second sequence with no cutaways was when the film that “had me at ‘hello’” lost me.
There certainly may be a place in film for an unflinching depicting of a brutal sexual assault, and Bakhia might argue that it was necessary to explain what happens in Act III of the film, but I had the nagging suspicion that this was sexual violence for its own sake, I Spit On Your Grave style: show violence perpetrated against a woman, and you can justify any amount of violent retribution part of your story. In the case of Landmine Goes Click, Bakhia’s decision to show the assault in full feels base and misogynistic, a theory more or less proven when Act III rolls around.
Perhaps these issues could be forgiven if it was actually a good and worthwhile film, well made and with something new and valid to say about the human condition. Unfortunately, Landmine Goes Click is a dud – a reminder that “I have a great idea for a movie” is a long way from “I’ve have a made a great movie.” The dialogue feels improvised (and not in a good way), the characters are thinly drawn and lacking in motivation, and the acting (particularly from the Americans) is often amateurish.
Thankfully, this is one Landmine that’s easy to avoid.