Starring Bruce Willis, Thomas Jane, Ambyr Childers
Directed by Brian A. Miller
Distributed by Lionsgate
There seems to be an almost direct connection when Bruce Willis plays the hero in his films, and with good reason: a handsome figure, tougher than nails, and dogged determination to make the wrong things right. But come on… isn’t it also an utter joy to watch him adopt the role of the sleazy, smarmy villain? Absolutely it is, and in Brian A. Miller’s latest sci-fi/thriller, Vice, he plays the part to perfection under the veil of slimy decadence.
As we have the yin (Willis as Julian), we most certainly need the yang, and it comes in the form of Thomas Jane as Roy, a grizzled detective who best resembles a graduating student of Jeff Spicoli’s Surf School. Roy is determined to shut down “Vice,” a haven for bored (and rich) individuals who wish to play out their wildest fantasies with those of the “replicant” persuasion. That’s right; we’re talking A.I. humanoids. Their actions and emotions are exactly like ours, and they can take one hell of a beating if the price is right. As soon as the damage is done, they’re scooped up by a sweep team, repaired, and their memory erased… or so you’d believe.
Ambyr Childers holds the lead reins here as Kelly, one of the A.I.s, who wishes for a better life. She simply wants to shed her dead-end job and move on to greener pastures, and her belief that her existence is pure is constantly overshadowed by the amount of times she’s been on the receiving end of the death-hammer. After she and her friend are offed one night after leaving work, it is made painfully obvious that there is a sinister being behind this “life” of incessant and repetitive abuse, and that would be Mr. Willis.
Kelly’s awakening leads her to become fully self-aware of the danger that exists for not only herself but thousands of those just like her, and after meeting up with a previous acquaintance (Bryan Greenburg), who may or may not have the answers to her true origins, it’s best advised that they BOTH get on the run before Julian’s goon squad can shut them down for good.
As the movie skates along, we’ve got a three-pronged attack on which to focus, with Kelly and her new beau on the run, Julian’s devious attempts to stop them, and the relentless pursuit of all parties involved by Detective Roy (Thomas Jane). It all adds up to a mildly interesting (and at times laborious) presentation put on by Miller, and as far as taking the prize home for best performance, I’d have to give the nod to Jane (even though I’m a huge Willis fan) – his scenes are as amusing in the comedic realm as they are good for the ass-kicking action fan who just wants to see some heads being busted. Shoot-outs and pursuits are the norm with a smattering of tech talk that can water the visuals down at times.
Overall, Vice is a so-so watch that will give the sci-fi lover in your life something to look forward to, but it’s not something that hasn’t been seen before. Just think Blade Runner, A.I., or I, Robot… I may have stretched it a bit TOO far on that last one, but you get what I’m saying.