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All Critics (13)
| Top Critics (8)
| Fresh (1)
| Rotten (12)
The film's anthropological interest in Indonesia is the smartest thing in an otherwise familiar scramble of kidnapped babes, expensive jewelry and millions of bullets.
The potential fun is all thoroughly undone, however, by an eye-roller of a script and a leaden lead performance from Twilight heartthrob Kellan Lutz.
Lutz ... doesn't have half the charisma required to hold together this jumble of cheesy shootouts and chases, but at least Rourke provides some unintended laughs with his comical attempts to be evil.
A better title for "Java Heat" might have been "Java Noise," since that is mostly what this uninvolving action film produces.
This otherwise generic '80s-style actioner benefits from the presence of the ever-colorful Mickey Rourke as an exotic villian.
Remember all those years when Mickey Rourke was languishing in cheap, straight-to-DVD work that paid his rent and wasted his talents? Apparently, he actually enjoyed making those movies.
a wretched mess of an action film
Despite some appealing exotic locales, the action sequences and plot twists are right off the genre assembly line.
The perfect macho date movie for that Type A juicehead in your life, marked by Mickey Rourke's ever-accelerating descent into Lon Chaney-esque grotesqueness.
It's violent enough to numb, but Allyn doesn't launch the effort to rousing heights of escapism. In the end, Java Heat works better as a travelogue than an international actioner.
A middling genre movie, but it's oddly likable for its conflicted, unresolved tension.
An action movie for people who don't mind clichéd plotting, lame dialogue, and the low-wattage charisma of third-string Twilight heartthrob Kellan Lutz.
"Pick up your feet, got to move to the trick of the beat; there is no elite, just take your place in the java heat!" I don't know why, but this film's title kind of makes me think of Sniff 'n' the Tears' "Driver's Seat", probably because somebody's got to remember that song. Well, at least that one-hit wonder pop-rock tune from the late '70s is getting more promotion than this film, though, to be fair, this is so much like a forgettable '80s action fluff piece that people must have forgotten about it over the course of about 30 years, even though it just came out. Okay, perhaps this film isn't that '80s, but it doesn't really perk you up quite as much as you expect out of a film about coffee doing battle... or whatever this is about. Like I said, they haven't been promoting this much, but I can tell you that Mickey Rourke looks like he could use some caffeine, or at least a better agent. Rourke and Kellan Lutz both need new agents, because Lutz is finally making his big break into the independent circuit after all of that "Twilight" nonsense, but he has to settle for some Indonesian action thriller that hardly anyone is seeing or liking. Well, I guess "barley" is more fitting than "hardly", because there's at least one jerk out there who likes this, even if I-I mean, he has some problems with it.
The film offers some thin, unsubtle characterization, and it could have potentially compensated for that if it at least spent more time drawing out the character types, yet as things stand, there's hardly any background to immediate development, while gradual exposition proves to be lacking, or least feels that way, due to some serious unevenness to character usage. Even the jumps between Kellan Lutz's and Ario Bayu's sides of the same central narrative that they lead jars, and yet, whatever the plot layer in focus may be, there's at least consistency in familiarity, as there are few, if any refreshing elements to the character types, as well as a "complex" thriller plot that is not intricate enough to keep you from predicting. This effort entertains just fine along the way, but you know this path, and whether you've seen it through certain '80s thrillers that seem to have some influence on storytelling or through a fall-flat modern thriller that takes itself too seriously, this storytelling is hardly anything new, going so far as to take subtlety issues that are practically trademark in films of this type. The lighter moments - some of which go so far as to incorporate all-out comic relief - are relatively rare, but are about as rarely organic as shifts in tone, breaking tension with some cheesiness, backed by a lack of subtlety that ironically also backs tension. The film is consistent in conventionalism and a lack of subtlety, yet it continues to be uneven in focus and tone, and that's challenging enough to your investment enough without all of pacing inconsistencies, which at least seem present when director Conor Allyn runs out of steam. This film is rarely too dull, but there are times in which dry meditations and other questionable directorial elements bring storytelling to a whiplash-inducing half that blands things up and distances, though not without retaining enough of your attention to direct it toward other flaws, which are considerable in quantity and severity. The final product comes pretty close to mediocrity, a point that many are saying it actually descends from, but for me, decency is ultimately achieved, by a hair, to be sure, but enough so for me to be engaged, at least on a visual level.
Shane Daly's cinematography is not quite unique enough to be all that striking, but it's still stronger than certain people are giving it credit for, being bleak enough to compliment the grit of this environment, while keeping up enough softness to carry a distinct handsomeness. Fine cinematography is pretty much the most recurring stylistic strength in this film, yet style is perhaps brought to light the most during brawls, shootouts and other assorted action goodness, backed by formulaic, but impressively harsh staging, whose intensity plays a big part in backing this thriller with a genuine sense of consequence. If tension is ever present, it's certainly quite prominent during the action sequences, as surely as other heights in engagement value go anchored by sharp style, yet, I must that is might be substance that ultimately saves the final product from mediocrity. Sure, this story is generic and thin, and the telling of it is not too much more biting, yet there is still a fair bit of bite, at least in concept, no matter how predictable this dramatic action thriller is, which isn't to say that the interpretation of this narrative isn't still commendable in plenty of areas, including the portrayal of thinly drawn characters. The particularly underused Mickey Rourke steals the show with both an excellent accent and an intimidating presence as an antagonist, but the leads keep things going, to a certain extent at least, with Kellan Lutz having bland moments, yet ultimately a decent amount of charisma, while Ario Bayu proves to be even more effective in his portrayal of a charmingly short-fused, but sharp and humanly flawed man of the law who gets in over his head. Really, every performance is pretty decent, including a key offscreen one by Conor Allyn, whose directorial efforts are more like Lutz's onscreen performance, in that they have their share of bland spells, yet are generally quite decent, playing with anything from an often atmospheric score by Justin Caine Burnett, to the aforementioned striking style and action in order to grip, or at least entertain. Yeah, there are bland spells, but at the end of the day, this is pretty entertaining stuff, and while I kind of wish that the final product was more than that, - say, a more refreshing and coherent thriller - that's enough to get it by as decent, even if it doesn't get things by as especially memorable.
When the heat has cooled down, the final product is chilled down too much by underdevelopment, genericisms, inconsistencies in focus and tone, and many an atmospheric cold spell to drift too far away from mediocrity, which it still manages to evade to a fair extent, as there is enough handsomeness to the cinematography, intensity to the action, intrigue to the thin narrative, charisma to the lead performances by Kellan Lutz and Ario Bayu, and effectiveness to Conor Allyn's direction to make "Java Heat" an adequately entertaining and often genuinely intense thriller, no matter how much thrills go limited.
2.5/5 - Fair
If The Raid Redemption set the high standard for Indonesian action films then Java Heat sets the low standard. It fails in nearly every area fundamental for an action movie to work.
Java Heat story centers on the aftermath of a suicide bombing in Indonesia, where a reckless American posing as a grad student is bent on vengeance but quickly finds that the world's problems can't be solved with violence alone. Now the plot is serviceable, but the characters we're meant to follow are not. Our hero Jake is a FBI/Teaching Assistant/Marine/Spy/Cop is inept in what he does. Jake is a not good cop since he never uses his brain when trying to find a missing person. Despite being an FBI he knows nothing on the criminal world or how it operates. You'll wonder how Jake ever got into the Marines since he doesn't know how to react in combat either. The plot might have been cliched and convoluted to attempt to be smart, but at least it had some promising ideas. The hero was not one of them dragging the film down with him.
Jake Islamic partner Hashim is the exact opposite. For some reason the writers felt having an Islamic protagonist was not the way to and instead made him a sidekick. This works against the film since the sidekick has is more interesting, has more to lose, and knows what he's doing. Hashim is not that bad of a character, but the writers over shadow this with no idea on how law enforcement works. The police are given a poor representation as they do nothing to clean up the streets. The police even go as far as broadcast their raid of a criminal home live on TV and post it on the internet. Religious sensitivity is something this film is not familiar with. In order to get across our villain is evil just keep reminding the audience he's Islamic. I'm not an expert on the Islamic religion, but I'll doubt this is how they would like to be portrayed. One character in particular is a henchman of the villain and despite disagreeing with him on nearly everything he's order to do the henchman continues working for the villain because he's Islamic.
The acting is equally as bad as our protagonist. Our lead actor is Kellan Lutz or to be more accurate second rate Channing Tatum. Lutz has the muscle and looks, but none of the appeal. Lutz is consistently stiff in his line delivery, robotic in his movement, and his chemistry with the actors is nonexistent. When it comes to Lutz going into action mode he's below Winnie the Pooh when it comes to striking fear. Even the director knows this attempting to insert epic music to make him appear tough. Mickey (I'm here for the paycheck) Rourke phones it in as the villain and only has around five minute of screen time at most. Mickey Rourke phoning acting is still above our lead acting. Ario Bayu is believable in his role. Unlike the lead he actually gives an emotion. The Muslims actors were unconvincing. They clearly had trouble with English and despite fairing better in their native language the filmmakers desire to film this in English backfires for them. The action scenes were low budget and poorly staged. Gunfights are too simple to generate excitement and the fight scenes are badly performed. None the punches feel rough and the actors execution is more comedic than exhilarating.
Java Heat contains the genre lamest action hero and most inept FBI/Teaching Assistant/Marine/Spy/Cop to date. Java Heat is watchable in a sense it had some good ideas that could have benefited the film, but not in a sense you'll want to stick around before the end credits roll up.
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