Six ruthless bank robbers encounter someone far worse. Six bank robbers become stranded in a off the grid forest when their vehicle goes missing during the planning of their escape from the police. Now stranded and on a time crunch to make their flight headed out of the country they try to walk out of the forest. they soon encounter Hugh Lambe as a Vietnam veteran who was mentally damaged somehow in during the conflict and now kills anyone who enters his forest using his military training and some tactics used by the VietCong. At first the bank robbers do not seem to know who they are dealing with, the training and experience their adversary has, but they soon figure it out.
“Battleground” which originated under the previous title of “Skeleton Lake” takes a familiar approach to its story with a gang of bank robbers who just made off with a 3.2 million dollar loot. The heist didn’t go as expected with one of the gang engaging in gun fire with the police. Adding to the fact, that 1 was shot, has considerably upped the stakes on their posted capture. In other words, the bunch isn’t too happy about how things went down. A plane awaits their escape if they can just lay low for 24 hours until their contact can get the plane rounded up. The team chooses an old dilapidated cabin in the woods to gather their thoughts and figure out the next step.
The team seems to be under the directive of Mitch (Bryan Larkin) and his partner, 2 well seasoned veterans of high stakes robbery operations. As you can imagine, a team of thugs usually means that a few of them are getting antsy especially with a bag full of money in front of them. At this point, the action is pretty good but falls into alot of like scenario films we’ve seen in the past. Marketed as a thriller, I was waiting for the “thrill” part of the film to kick in.
Now, of course a few arguments break out and a few shootings take place. This bunch is too edgy to just hang out and chat for the duration. And by nature alone, crooks are always thinking about out-doing the other, especially in the interest of a bag full of money.
When one them gets shot in an argument, the team is baffled when his body goes missing (dug up) the next day. Not only that but their getaway van has disappeared. “Battleground” “began” to mold into a supernatural thriller, before we find out that a mentally damaged Vietnam veteran has actually been watching them from a distance. Actor Hugh Lambe is our resident hunter who ups the scale with some pretty bizarre rituals of his own. The gore factor raises considerably but the whole mess also gets edgy with gun toting bank robbers squaring off against a well trained ex-soldier.
As the film progresses, it becomes clear that the old vet is pretty well equipped and smarter than the lot of them. This final confrontation is the face-off goal of this film. Not a bad action packed battle to the death showcase. Though, was it just me or did you also feel like Hugh Lambe could have easily been Rutger Hauer?
At the time of reviewing this, I was feeling pretty tired, so my attention span was on the verge of being lost. Though a good sign usually in my case is when I am engaged enough in the film that anything else takes a a back seat. Battleground was a case that I quickly perked up to a decent storyline and an action filled premise egging me on. The premise does feel derivative until the psycho on the woods adds some flair to the storyline. I was reminded though of the film “Wrong Turn 3″ (I believe that was the one) that carried itself along similar lines. Though in “that” case, it was more typical of “crazy rednecks in the woods”
Neil Mackay has created a solid winner of an action packed thriller. Take a moment and check it out.