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Java Heat

2013 | 104 min | R | 2.39:1

Java Heat


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Theatrical release date

 10 May, 2013

Country of origin

 United States



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Screenshots from Java Heat Blu-ray

Java Heat Preview  

 / 10
Preview by Brian Orndorf, May 9, 2013

After securing blushes from teen girls worldwide with his supporting role in the “Twilight” series (playing Emmett, the vamp bruiser), Kellan Lutz is looking to break out on his own, accepting starring vehicles that require displays of strength and beefcakery. However, the true star of “Java Heat” is the Indonesian island where the location takes place, often displaying more nuance and personality than any of the performers onscreen. Rote and uneventful, “Java Heat” could’ve easily starred Jean-Claude Van Damme 15 years ago and probably would’ve been a total gas. Today, we’re stuck with Lutz, who doesn’t have the Euro charm or martial art prowess required to gift the production an identifying trait.

An American with a score to settle, Jake Travers (Kellan Lutz) has traveled to Indonesia to track Malik (Mickey Rourke), a supervillain with his eyes on a specific prize of rare jewelry, currently owned by a local princess, Sultana (Atiqah Hasiholan). Using a devastating terrorist bombing to cover for a scheme of kidnapping, Malik nabs Sultana during the chaos, hiding her away in his lair for future use. Managing to inch close to Malik in the moments before the explosion, Jake is caught by the local police at the scene of the crime, with Officer Hashim (Ario Bayu) responsible for interrogating his elusive suspect, trying to crack the depth and motivation of Jake’s secretive past. Realizing that Jake’s declarations of innocence are true, Hashim pairs up with the ex-Marine, hoping to take down Malik before he causes additional mayhem on his mission to get rich, eventually taking the cop’s family hostage to ensure the ease of his escape.

Enjoying a thriving action film industry of its own, Indonesia is rarely visited by American productions, making “Java Heat” a novelty with its sweltering locations and observance of local customs. Using the land’s combustible mix of Christian and Muslim populations, co-writer/director Conor Allyn cooks up a story of religious tension and terrorism, attempting to compact such a bottomless discussion into action movie tropes for easier consumption. The bullets fly fast and proud in “Java Heat,” with numerous opportunities for stand-offs and chases, keeping viewers sufficiently glazed as our heroes are battered by baddies, requiring the use of quick feet and itchy trigger fingers. There’s promise in the opening that Allyn might use the pressure of the land to create a picture with a real identity, but the excitement doesn’t last for long, especially with this cast in charge of the screenplay’s infrequent subtleties.

Lutz is brawny and handsome, but there’s little creative evidence to back up his insistence on a longstanding acting career. “Java Heat” understands the performer’s limitations, putting weapons into his hands and requiring nudity to appease the errant “Twilight” fan that happens to come across the effort. In fact, there’s even a “Twilight” joke cracked during the action, just to keep the movie that much more self-aware. Lutz isn’t convincing with dramatic pleas of innocence or when Jake has to plumb the depths of his guilt to sway Hassan to his side, while the script’s design of deception with the lead’s shifting identity is lost on the actor, who only has the one note he can play convincingly. Thankfully, Bayu is a heartier actor, carrying the emotional weight with less visible strain, making Hassan’s moments the strongest of the feature.

Mickey Rourke’s wandering around the picture as well, though his participation is barely noticed. Accepting an Indonesian vacation in exchange for vague accent work and a halfhearted spewing of threats, Rourke doesn’t strike any notes of fear, looking as bored as ever. The screenplay overcooks villainy to make a point about Malik’s loathsome nature, turning the kidnapping enthusiast into greasy man with a taste for underage boys, accomplishing a great deal of damage during his trip to Java. It’s an unnecessary addition, giving the film a coating of ickiness it doesn’t need.

“Java Heat” retains a sense of humid, bustling street life and domestic tradition, making jaunts into the swarming population more interesting than anything the dreary plot has to offer. 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.

Starring: Kellan Lutz, Mickey Rourke, Ario Bayu
Director: Conor Allyn

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