Term Life (2016)

  • Time: 94 min
  • Genre: Crime | Drama
  • Director: Peter Billingsley
  • Cast: Vince Vaughn, Hailee Steinfeld, Jon Favreau, Taraji P. Henson, Terrence Howard


A guy wanted around town by various hit men hopes to stay alive long enough for his life insurance policy to kick in and pay out for his estranged daughter.


  • “The easiest place to hide is in plain sight,” advises professional heist planner Nick Barrow in Term Life. This line is a bit hard to swallow considering Nick is played by Vince Vaughn who, at 6 feet 5 inches, is pretty hard to miss. Height aside, there’s also the matter of the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad hairstyle that he sports throughout the entire movie. Yet praise be that hairdo for it at least distracts from the insistently awful mess that is Term Life.

    Nick runs into a mountain of trouble when his latest job goes awry and his buyer is gunned down by a gang of dirty cops (Bill Paxton, Shea Whigham, Mike Epps). Turns out the murdered buyer was the son of drug kingpin Victor Fuentes (Jordi MollĂ ), a man so deranged that “cemeteries are in business because of him.” Victor is unsurprisingly unhappy about his son’s death and, believing Nick to be behind the double cross, threatens to harm Nick’s 16-year-old daughter Kate (Hailee Steinfeld) if Nick doesn’t fess up.

    Nick hasn’t had the most ideal relationship with his daughter, who has not only had to deal with a dad who provides and protects from a distance but also an alcoholic mom (Annabeth Gish) currently in rehab. So what better time to be on the run and in hiding to repair the broken family ties? Steinfeld essentially reprises her role from 3 Days to Kill in which she dealt with a similar daddy-daughter estrangement. Her dad in that movie at least had the good grace to have terminal illness, which lent added momentum and emotional stakes to him attempting to reconnect with his daughter whilst also in the midst of carrying out one last deadly assignment. 3 Days to Kill was a solid picture, but it’s positively Shakespearean compared to the inert inanities on display in Term Life.

    Nick and Kate do the formulaic push and pull of recrimination and forgiveness. She’s angry that he’s never been there for her, he’s hoping they can just make it through the next three weeks, the amount of time needed for his life insurance policy to go into effect so that if anything happens to him, Kate is financially taken care of for the rest of her life. In the meantime, the viewers’ minds numb and interest wanes. Every so often, a familiar face pops into frame – amongst them Jon Favreau as a fellow lackey, Jonathan Banks as Nick’s mentor, Taraji P. Henson as an insurance agent, Terrence Howard as a small town cop. It’s a small mystery how so many talented actors allowed themselves to be so wasted and mishandled.

    Director Peter Billingsley, who will forever be known as the kid from A Christmas Story, doesn’t even seem to be trying to meet the standards of competency. Vaughn, usually a restless energy, rouses himself every now and then from his tranquilised state to deliver another woeful line of dialogue.

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  • A father/daughter, Hollywood ending preceded by killings, shootings, and slight torture oh my! Is Vince Vaughn starring in another farce? Heck no. He’s trying to revive his career with the help of Ralphie from A Christmas Story!

    Anyway, despite the fugly way in which Vaughn runs from the bad guys or the sort of drab narration he spouts out, his Term Life is still a movie that I’m going to recommend. It’s a crime drama so my initial thought was why were he and director Peter Billingsley attached to it in the first place. Granted, Mr. Sunshine has been churning out bad comedies so I guess he wanted to get serious this time. He plays thief Nick Barrow and to a degree, he kinda pulls the character off. Billingsley, well he has only helmed one other film being 2009’s dreadful, Couples Retreat. With “Term”, he thankfully comes off as more experienced. He’s aggressive behind the camera, capturing every little criminalistic detail and staging a gunfight or two with ample precision. His Term Life plays like a B movie but it’s better than most. It tries really hard to make you think there’s something greater underneath the surface.

    Now in spite of featuring irrelevant cameos by notable actors (did Taraji P. Henson, Annabeth Gish, Jon Favreau, and Mike Epps owe Peter B. a favor?), “Term” still insures that you’ll be focused on its breakneck storyline. In the film, Hailee Steinfeld reprises her role as the resentful daughter from 2014’s 3 Days to Kill. Don’t worry though. Her performance and Term Life itself, are much better than “Kill’s” hindered discombobulation.

    With 1973 giving us Paper moon, 2012 giving us Erased, and now 2016 giving us the harmless yet relatively entertaining Term life, the father/daughter movie brigade is continuing if not prevailing. The title of “Term” (which I thought meant a lengthy prison sentence) has to do with Vince Vaughn’s Barrow taking out a life insurance policy for his daughter (Steinfeld as Cate Barrow). You see Nick Barrow is being hunted down by hit men, corrupt cops, and the mob. Why you ask? Because as a thief, he sold his heist to the wrong people and the job went sour. Cate is also in trouble. They can get to her just as fast as they can get to him. Together, father and little one hide out incognito to try and figure out why their well being is in danger. They also try to figure out who later on set them up (for murder). Watch for the antagonistic Bill Paxton playing a dirty detective named Keenan. He channels the role in virtually the same vein as when he played the despicable Earl in 2 Guns. Also, look out for an extensive use of Georgia locales plus Vince Vaughn’s almost unrecognizable hairstyle. Paul McCartney called and says he wants his mop top back (ha ha).

    In conclusion, with an adjusted gross of about $21,256, it’s safe to say that “Term” won’t be the comeback vehicle Vince Vaughn was hoping for. I as a critic, also feel like this isn’t a turning point in his career. I do however, give him credit for trying to recreate the dramatic roles he inhabited some twenty odd years ago (examples would be Domestic Disturbance, Return to Paradise, and A Cool, Dry Place). Bottom line: At 90-100 minutes, I’ve seen much worse from Vaughn and various, clown directors who try to better limited release dreck. Rating: 3 stars.

    Rating: 3 out of 4 stars

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  • “You’re a thief, right? That’s what mom said. You steal stuff, right? Yeah. You must really suck at it.”

    “Term life” is such a kind of movie that makes me think deeply the next day, just because I can’t remember the title anymore. Let alone I remember anything significant content wise. At first I didn’t even feel like watching this comical crime film, due to the presence of Vince Vaughn. He isn’t exactly my favorite actor. Lets say he already got on my nerves in “The internship” and “Wedding Crashers”. But ultimately I must admit that his presence was quite bearable in this film. He really doesn’t look like a criminal and I was afraid he would come up with something semi-comic (which wouldn’t be funny anyway). But fortunately this wasn’t the case. There are also some well-known actors present, even though their roles are meaningless after all.

    Nick Barrow (Vince Vaughn) isn’t what you’d call an active criminal, but rather a criminal standing at the sidelines. He constructs robberies and burglaries. In short, he observes the target, makes the planning (complete with electrical schematics, codes and timing) and sells it to the highest bidder. After a robbery ends badly with the participating criminals being eliminated and the loot totally gone, it’s time for Nick to make his escape as quickly as possible. One of the dead criminals appears to be the son of Victor Fuentes (Jordi Molla), the big chief of a Mexican drug cartel. Add to this a gang of corrupt cops and you understand that Nick is actually in deep shit. The only one he’s worried about the most, is his daughter. He hasn’t talked to her for years now and only has a collection of photos in a shoe-box which he made secretly. A new life insurance is his solution. His only concern is to stay alive the next three weeks in the company of his rebellious daughter.

    As mentioned before, a whole bunch of famous actors joined this “overgrown by genres” film. You’ll see Jon “Chef” Favreau for about 3 minutes. Jonathan “Breaking Bad” Banks plays one of the most interesting parts. A kind of sidelined criminal who’s so good-natured to help Nick and to provide some inside information. If there’s one person who has the most funny dialogue lines, then it’s him. The most successful rendition is played by Bill Paxton. A perfect portrait of a corrupt cop who’s doing everything to prevent that he’s being condemned by the “Internal affairs”. Even if this is detrimental to his partners in crime

    “Term Life” is simply a typical action movie with some forced comedy. And finally they’ve mixed it with a cheesy family drama. The type of family film about a father-daughter relationship that went wrong. In the beginning the teenage daughter is always pissed at the ever-absent father. So expect some embarrassing moments for Nick who tries to pick up the pieces as a responsible and caring father. The final outcome is as predictable as the fact that Easter Monday will be this year on a Monday. This insignificant movie suffocated itself with the hodgepodge of genres. I guess they weren’t really fully aware of which direction they finally wanted to go. And it’s really not a good sign when a ridiculous hairdo draws the most attention of movie lovers.

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