Mar 23, 2014

Review: Java Heat (2013)

 In Java Heat, Kellan Lutz takes up the challenge to be the best shirtless actor in the industry. His ex-costar Taylor Lautner may be the most well known in this type of acting, but Lutz makes a valiant effort to take over. Move over method acting, shirtless acting is what it's all about now.

Sarcasm aside, Java Heat feels like a direct-to-video effort. It opens with a Coca-Cola product placement and we learn of a suicide bombing that killed the Sultana of Java. Kellan Lutz plays Jake Wilde, an American who's only guilty of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Seemingly. However, Lieutenant Hashim played by Ario Bayu doesn't believe he's telling the truth.

For some reason, Hashim takes Jake with him to investigate the scene of the crime. He even lets Jake mess around with evidence for whatever reason. Seems like bad police work if you ask me. The real truth as to who Jake is gets revealed in an unsatisfying sob story which is partly Kellan Lutz's fault

Lutz has the charisma and acting ability of a concrete slab. I think even the director recognized this because the camera barely stays on him when he's delivering his lines. Scenes with Ario Bayu? Most of the time, Bayu is put front and center to cover for Lutz. As cringe worthy as Taylor Lautner can be, he's better than Lutz's total lack of soul on screen.

The script doesn't really help either. My favourite line as delivered by Kellan Lutz is "Yeah, that's us, violent country!" Maybe that's cherry-picking but on the whole, the dialogue is pretty weak across the board. I was disappointed when two Javanese characters were conversing and one of them suggests to speak in English which doesn't make any sense. Why wouldn't you speak in your native language? Also, Mickey Rourke has some pretty bad lines that he hams up while half asleep.

Rourke plays a French baddie with awful results. Half the time it's impossible to know what his accent is supposed to be. He's got some fetching suits though while he just struts around smoking cigarettes for most of the movie. I honestly like Mickey though and his career did sort of pickup after The Wrestler but I hope he's not doomed to only be in schlock fests like this for the rest of his career.

The action sequences in Java Heat are decent but wonky at times. The best one is during an extended chase through tight quarters with shirtless, body armor wearing Lutz. Shirtless Lutz makes many appearances, so don't worry. There might be a new Oscar category for shirtless acting if all goes right.

The true story of what really happened during the suicide bombing is silly if you ask me and there is no real tension during the movie. I think Java Heat could have been a lot better if it weren't an action movie. Instead it could be turned into a mystery/thriller which could have been cool.

The good thing I have to say about Java Heat is in how it presents Java. I can't verify if what's shown is actually accurate but I feel like it did present a small window into how life is over there in terms traditions and culture. I actually learned some stuff. The cinematography is good in showing scenery as well as landmarks of Java.

Best actor in Java Heat? Ario Bayu without a doubt. His character is sympathetic and Bayu carries Lutz over his shoulder like a sack of potatoes. He's funny on a couple of occasions and is really the only bright spot in terms of acting. 

You like shirtless Lutz? You like Frenchman Rourke? Java Heat is for you then and marks the continuation of the shirtless acting technique.


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