Starring Thomas Jane, Bruce Willis, Ambyr Childers, Johnathon Schaech, Bryan Greenberg. Directed by Brian A. Miller. (2015, 96 min). Lionsgate
A more accurate title of this film might be Déjà Vu.
Vice is a sci-fi action thriller which liberally borrows concepts, ideas and tropes from a slew of other (and better) movies, mostly the 1973 classic, Westworld, but also Blade Runner, I Robot, Robocop and perhaps a bit of Edge of Tomorrow, just to name a few. While watchable enough, Vice is pretty underwhelming and ultimately forgettable.
Bruce Willis phones-it-in as Julian Michaels, an arrogant mogul who runs an adult amusement park called Vice (looking a lot like downtown Miami), where rich tourists can visit to indulge in any behavior they wish, no matter how sleazy and violent. This includes murder, robbery & rape. There aren’t any consequences because the park is populated by Artificials, clone/robot hybrids who only think they’re human, and programmed to forget anything that previously happened to them (essentially living the same day over and over). Thomas Jane is Roy, a scraggly, renegade cop who has-it-in for Michaels because the decadent behavior in Vice has spilled out into the city where he works (the more twisted guests are apparently unable to turn off their urges).
For reasons not fully explained, one female artificial, Kelli (Ambyr Childers), suddenly becomes self-aware and able to recall every horrible act ever inflicted on her. She escapes the park into the city. Michaels sends a team of his own soldiers to hunt her down (artificials are forbidden everywhere but Vice). She’s able to repeatedly elude them because, even though armed with automatic weapons, these soldiers are such lousy shots they make Imperial Stormtroopers look like Chris Kyle. After more-than-a-few coincidences, Kelli eventually finds her original creator, then Roy manages to track down the two of them. This, of course, leads to a showdown where they try to undo Michaels’ entire operation.
There are shoot-outs a-plenty and a lot of action, though its all fairly pedestrian. The story is predictable and extremely derivative, with a lot of “oh come on!” moments (even though Vice is touted as having the tightest security in the world, our heroes are able to sneak in and wreak havoc with little-more difficulty than passing through an airport terminal). Overall, the performances are adequate. Jane is okay, but it does sometimes seem like he’s making-up his own dialogue as he goes along (and what’s up with that hair?). Willis shows up for a paycheck to increase the movie’s marquee value, and it looks like most of his scenes were shot in a day. As Kelli, Childers probably turns in the best performance, even though little is really required of her character other than running in terror and kicking-ass when needed.
But Vice’s biggest problem is its complete lack of originality. There’s a lot of fun to be had in rip-offs when done with flair (Neil Marshall’s homage-loaded Doomsday immediately comes-to-mind). Vice isn’t a terrible movie, but there’s something amiss when main thing it accomplishes is encouraging the viewer keep score of all the previous films it rips off so liberally.
- Audio Commentary by Ambyr Childers, Bryan Greenberg & Director Brian A. Miller
- Behind the Scenes Feature
- Cast & Crew Interviews
- Digital Copy