Cast: Michael Roark, Trace Adkins, Ali Afshar, Allison Paige
Director: Alex Ranarivelo
It’s very difficult to review movies like Bennett’s War because there just isn’t a whole lot to work with. Sure it’s enjoyable and generally inoffensive, but it’s also bland, generic, and nothing unique to its genre. While it may only be 94 minutes long, when a movie like this constantly refuses to do anything interesting or exciting, it creates an environment that makes this movie feel much longer than it actually is. Generally pleasant but a victim of having a message that doesn’t fully say what it intends to, Bennett’s War is fine as a stream, but I’m stunned that this movie got any sort of theatrical release.
The film follows Michael Bennett (Roark), a motocross rider who quits his passion to serve his country in the military. When he gets injured in Afghanistan and is medically discharged, Michael heads home unable to fight anymore but also unable to ride. With bills adding up and his father’s farm pending foreclosure, Michael risks his health and starts racing again and faces a brand new set of enemies out there on the track. On paper, this movie sounds solid enough to do something with and create an environment that allows the character to overcome real obstacles en route to achieving his goal. The issue is that this movie feels completely neutered and void of any real conflict or emotional growth. It follows the same formula that every other sports movie does with little intention or incentive to deviate from this path. If the leads were compelling enough to carry this movie past its premise and added something special to it, then there’s a chance that this movie could’ve been something more than just a bland and average sports movie. The acting is incredibly dull and uninspired and it takes away from a plot that could’ve given us more. Even the rival bikers feel like something out of a 1980s sports movie like The Karate Kid with how outrageous and unrealistic they are, but that may have been the angle that this movie was going for. Even though some of the racing sequences are fun to watch, when you know basically exactly what’s about to happen before it happens it takes any sort of suspense out of the movie. What do you think happens in a movie like this, he loses the race and his dad loses the farm? Of course not. It’s a matter of making the movie palatable while it does its best to try and work through its problems and give us a salvageable and potentially meaningful movie. To put this into perspective, this movie feels like it is two Jesus moments away from being a Pure Flix movie, so it’s not exactly something people will be lining up to see. I can’t be that hard on it because it’s basically a filler movie that has no greater purpose, but you’d hope everyone behind the creation of this movie would try a little harder to leave their comfort zone and do something meaningful with the material.
Overall, with no huge names and nothing very interesting about this movie present, it’s no surprise that Bennett’s War isn’t listed on anyone’s best of the year list. If you bring this movie up to me five years from now, I think I’ll have a tough time remembering any specific detail about it without getting a little bit of description fed to me, and I don’t think I’m alone on that point. When it’s all said and done, Bennett’s War isn’t terrible, but it will absolutely go done as one of the most generic movies of 2019.
Overall Score: 5/10