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Anyone hoping Bruce Willis might enjoy a career renaissance after his rediscovery in M Night Shyamalan’s Split and Glass: lower those expectations now. Here’s Willis back in his familiar 21st-century guise of cheque-cashing frontman for tuppenny-ha’penny video-on-demand fare, drafted in to deliver terse exposition before ceding the screen to no-names with slightly more give in their knees. All evidence would suggest he spent more time than usual on this film set, albeit much of that lassoed to a chair with an extravagant snood to keep him cosy. As ex-Marine turned embattled CEO Donovan Chalmers, Willis is operating in that grey area between zero fuss and not much effort.
The main event is a nondescript shuffle around some hoary old cliches, strewn with abysmal dialogue and filmed by someone who has played a lot of first-person shooters. It transpires that Chalmers’ techno-whizz daughter (Lala Kent) has been kidnapped by international scourge named The Pardoner (Sergio Rizzuto), whose smash-the-system rhetoric, expressed in boring, sub-Dr Evil monologues, needs stomping out with privately sourced paramilitary force. The film’s stompers-in-chief are a buff platoon of kick-ass boys and girls led by erstwhile Desperate Housewives gardener Jesse Metcalfe, shrugging blandly through the kind of role (alcoholic combat veteran with a bad back) Willis himself might have enlivened in happier times.
This is certainly ascribing too much profundity to mind-numbingly basic content, but the whole does retain an oddly rueful, haunted quality. It’s there in everything from the wintry light to the supporting cast’s eerie resemblance to more established faces. (Rizzuto looks like a Bradley Cooper knock-off.) Most of all, it’s present in the primary location, a hollowed-out factory in Cincinnati. Look beyond the lifelessly choreographed shootouts and you keep catching glimpses of ghosts: those of American industry, yes, but also those of the American action movie, once manufactured with a skill, verve and wit wholly absent from these painfully long 98 minutes.
Source: The Guardian
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