Eh? I thought Mickey Rourke had revived his career? It seems that he may actually like doing low budget action flicks…
A suicide bombing in Indonesia results in the death of the Sultana (the princess). An American grad student, Jake Travers (Kellan Lutz) who was present at the bombing gets dragged into a terrorist conspiracy involving Muslim extremists and an art thief, Malik (Mickey Rourke) who will go to any lengths necessary to get what he wants.
At best, this could be described as an action heavy thriller, so if you’re a fan of the Bourne series this might possibly be up your alley.
The Bottom Line
I have to give this movie points for trying, but unfortunately this doesn’t save it from being a mindless bargain bin movie. But before I get into that, what does Java Heat get right?
Java Heat has a lot of action, and it’s pulled off much better than a lot of the lower budget action flicks I’ve reviewed. The film relies on a lot of physical special effects such as real explosions, fire, and blank bullets, which makes it stand out from the usual low budget flicks which often try to use CG substitutes for these effects.
The film also does try to add some depth to its story by teaming up an American and an Indonesian cop, and exploring the various issues that come up between the two. This basically means there’s the typical East vs West cultural clash that brings along with it all kinds of baggage like religious issues, and attitudes to life and living. It would have been nice to see these things affect the story more, but by the time the film starts rolling, the main “twist” has already been figured out, which is why the main character is in Indonesia in the first place.
We also see the film try to portray the extremists in a slightly positive light. Yes, they are fully committed to their holy war, but they won’t see the blood of women and children spilled which results in a nice little conflict between the extremists and the art thief who they are working with. I’m not sure if this works considering these guys are quite happy to blow up other people, some of which are innocent and have nothing to do with their holy war, but hey, that’s the way it was written in this film.
Unfortunately, that’s about all the good things I can say about Java Heat. The problems?
The story is fairly simple, and tends to leap around (a lot of “coincidences” occur, somewhat unnaturally at times). The characters, despite reasonable attempts by the writers, come off as somewhat flat, particularly Jake. The performances aren’t the worst I’ve seen, but considering the film is mostly action and little substance, the performances are almost irrelevant (I will give a special exception to Ario Bayu, who plays the Muslim cop Hashim – his performance was the best of the lot).
Also, the quality of the DVD isn’t great. One of the first things I noticed is that the image quality was quite poor, but I surprisingly got used to it pretty quickly.
Overall, Java Heat isn’t a terrible movie, and you’ll probably enjoy at least some of it while you’re watching. However, the movie is incredibly forgettable and out-shined by many, many other similar movies.