The Badge

  • 2002
  • Movie
  • Crime, Drama

A Southern-fried murder mystery with some colorful twists, in which a good ol' boy is forced to face his prejudices and move beyond them in order to solve the crime. Sheriff Darl Hardwick (Billy Bob Thornton) has lived in Louisiana's La Salle Parish all his life; his father (Tom Bower) was Sheriff until liquor got the better of him, and Darl is fully versed...read more

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Reviewed by Maitland McDonagh
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A Southern-fried murder mystery with some colorful twists, in which a good ol' boy is forced to face his prejudices and move beyond them in order to solve the crime. Sheriff Darl Hardwick (Billy Bob Thornton) has lived in Louisiana's La Salle Parish all his life; his father (Tom Bower) was Sheriff until liquor got the better of him, and Darl is fully versed in the ways of going along to get along. Darl has the support of the local Republican political machine until he begins digging too deeply into the death of a New Orleans stripper named Mona, who had the bad manners to get herself murdered in the swamp after doing a lingerie show at the Tidewater Hunt and Fish Club. Everyone who's anyone in local politics belongs to the club, and they'd prefer Darl let the matter drop, especially after the local coroner gets around to looking at the body and discovers that Mona is a she-male. They're also all in cahoots with Judge Pendergast (William Devane), who's busy trying to push through a plan to build a casino in town, a plan opposed by Sister Felicia (Julie Haggerty) and a surprisingly large and vocal contingent of local churchgoers. Darl is up for reelection and it would be in his best interests not to rock the boat; even his not especially friendly ex-wife (Sela Ward), an up-and-coming local prosecutor, suggests that he shouldn't put himself on the line for a dead outsider. But Darl's nagging sense of responsibility won't let him abandon Mona's case and in any event, he made a promise to Mona's wife, Scarlett (Patricia Arquette), and if a Southern man isn't as good as his word, what is he? Darl is dropped from the Republican ticket, but goes ahead and runs as an independent candidate, all the while looking into the matter of Mona's murder. His investigation that takes him to New Orleans and his own past; he's forced to ask for help from the brother (Thomas Hayden Church) who, in the interests of furthering his career, Darl ran out of town for being gay. Originally intended for theatrical release, this heady brew of sexual politics and backroom wheeling and dealing debuted on cable before going to video and DVD. Though the film doesn't have anything particularly original to say about corruption, tolerance, personal integrity, small-town small mindedness or the strength of community, its worthy thematic elements come wrapped in an entertainingly sleazy package, and Thornton and Arquette deliver unusually relaxed performances.

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  • Released: 2002
  • Review: A Southern-fried murder mystery with some colorful twists, in which a good ol' boy is forced to face his prejudices and move beyond them in order to solve the crime. Sheriff Darl Hardwick (Billy Bob Thornton) has lived in Louisiana's La Salle Parish all hi… (more)

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