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Thursday, March 5, 2015

Vice 2015 * 1/2 Stars

ViceDirector: Brian A. Miller
Year: 2015
Rated R
Rating: * 1/2 Stars
Cast: Bruce Willis, Thomas Jane, Bryan Greenberg

Look at the movie poster for The Prince and then look at the movie poster for 2015's Vice (the film I'm about to review). They're inseparable. So why did I bring this up? Well for one, both of these little seen vehicles entertain the same habitual director and the same washed up, leading man (that would be Bruce "I need to cash my check and go" Willis). Based on my written tongue lashing, is it safe to say that Brian A. Miller's latest is pretty mediocre? Yup. In truth, if you have ninety minutes to kill and are willing to spend six bones through DirecTV, you'd probably be better off reading a book. Yeah this is a "vice" that is for the most part, morally decrepit.

Miller's sixth film is a K5 International release that intertwines plot workings and characters in a most convenient way. Basically, it's action-adventure for dummies. The story begins by chronicling "VICE", a resort where artificial humans are designed and used as murderous play objects for everyday people. These denizens who are mostly criminal in nature, can live out any fantasy they want. Most of it is sick and twisted. Julian Michaels (Willis) runs the operation and he is investigated (with good reason) by a long-haired, Philip Marlowe type named Roy (Thomas Jane). When one of Julian's artificial robots (Ambyr Childers as Kelly) gets away and thinks that she's actually relevant, all hell breaks loose. Heaven forbid a young vixen might want to get a drink at a bar or escape to the Caribbean (artificial intelligence is not so artificial. Talk about unoriginal).

This is something that throttles its Sci-Fi jargon completely through the mud. It's a swindle of copycat stuff that's straight from the playbooks of Blade RunnerThe IslandStrange Days, and even A.I. There's some B movie kitsch going on here with matter-of-fact acting and a sometimes elaborate screenplay.

The action sequences in Vice (you knew there were going to be a few of them) are standard shoot-'em-ups. The good guys are at the same time, the bad guys, the villains are at large, the victims, and innocent bystanders are for the most part, finding themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time.

In terms of subdued acting prowess, Bruce Willis delivers his lines in a deadpan monotone. His character is a cliche in movies, you know the slimy, powerful businessman scumbag who wants to play God. He probably read everything from a teleprompter. There's a term in the English language called "getting by". Willis hammers that notion straight home. Oh and as in the previously mentioned "Prince", he again becomes the antagonist who has a final, laughable confrontation with the protagonist. Nothing to see here, move along. Oh and I almost forgot, Thomas Jane who was so brilliant in Boogie Nights, has been flying under the radar for the last 15 years (I forgot he was still working). What a shame. He spouts dialogue with a toothpick in his mouth and it makes him look like a traitorous buffoon. He plays the token, angry detective who clashes with his superiors, wants to do the right thing overall, and pokes his nose where it doesn't belong. I know he can act, he knows it, but this is a thankless role for him.

Anyway, Vice is not the worst movie in the world, but it comes close. This thing gets sillier and sillier as it goes along. Everything just reeks of desperation. It's as if the filmmakers wanted to milk every Sci-Fi nook and cranny they could. Although laughably intriguing, January's newest clunker wants you to like it way too much. For me, I categorize the proceedings as naked, glossy schlock. There's half a brain there but said brain is really damaged.

In conclusion, if you're a big fan of Germany's favorite son, seeing this double feature wannabe might cause you to go into a deep bout of depression. My advise would be to revisit Die Hard just one more time. Yeah I know you've probably memorized that 1988 masterpiece verbatim, but it just might let you relive the glory days again. I'm talking the warm fuzzies for Walter Bruce Willis, an action legend who has unfortunately turned into a paycheck-hungry galoot. Just a thought.

Of note: A lot of the paperweight villains in Vice appear to die even though they are clearly wearing bulletproof vests. I'm not stupid. Did anyone involved bother to calculate that tidbit? Oh and look for the ending shot. It's an insult to anyone who has ever seen a gotcha conclusion via any cinematic endeavor. What a Hollywood nose thumbing if I may be so bold.

Written by Jesse Burleson

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