Vice (2015)

Vice (2015)
  • Time: 96 min
  • Genre: Action | Adventure | Sci-Fi
  • Director: Brian A Miller
  • Cast: Thomas Jane, Bruce Willis, Ambyr Childers


Julian Michaels (Bruce Willis) has designed the ultimate resort: VICE, where anything goes and the customers can play out their wildest fantasies with artificial inhabitants who look, think and feel like humans. When an artificial (Ambyr Childers) becomes self-aware and escapes, she finds herself caught in the crossfire between Julian’s mercenaries and a cop (Thomas Jane) who is hell-bent on shutting down Vice, and stopping the violence once and for all.


  • 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 Runner, The Island, Strange 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 his lines 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.

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  • I watched the film knowing nothing about it. I wish I had taken the time to look up previews as this film is an absolute waste of time! The story, basically about an android that gains self awareness, is poorly delivered. The acting, the camera shots and overall feel comes across as very low budget & cheaply made. I wanted to like this movie, I really did but the more I watched the more the obvious storyline, poor performances & dismal direction diminish my viewing interest.

    Both Bruce Willis & Thomas Jane should be genuinely ashamed to take on main roles in such a below par project and delivering such below par performances! The story’s premise has been covered many times in other films so there is plenty of material out there to get inspiration from. There is absolutely nothing here to catch a viewers interest and Bruce Willis and Thomas Jane actually add to the low budget feel.

    Give it a miss!

  • I’m afraid that no film can push this abominable bad created movie of the first place in my “Best to avoid this film in 2015”-list. After watching appalling movies such as “The Cold Light of Day”, “Fire with Fire”, “Red 2”, “The Prince” and “A Good Day To Die Hard”, I was hoping to see the old Bruce Willis back again once more. However, what a disappointment. I’m convinced that senile senior citizens are showing more enthusiasm than Willis here. He is known by his nonchalant attitude and coolness in previous films, but the lack of interest that he’s showing here and the total lack of facial expressions throughout the film (even up to the last fragment) defies all imagination.

    This uninspired story is a mix of “Westworld”, “Blade Runner” and “Groundhog Day”. The only difference is that each of these three top films are a joy to watch and are based on an enjoyable and original idea. “Vice” is a sort of theme park for adults, populated by artificially intelligent robots that are indistinguishable from human beings. They can be in pain, have feelings and have a human body with high-tech features (not that you get to see it explicitly throughout the film). The format of the park is that visitors have total freedom and can do as they please. Do you want to murder a prostitute, cut a barmaid’s throat or organize a gang rape of an innocent visitor at the local nightclub, you can go ahead safely with no adverse consequences. My first thoughts were : what kind of sick people visit this park and wouldn’t it be better that such potential criminals are shipped immediately to some state prison. Anyway, it’s all about entertainment for the crowd, I guess.

    Everything goes smoothly and without any problems until Kelly (Ambyr Childers) starts getting flashbacks and relives crimes she was the victim of. Of course a reboot won’t help and she’s brought back to the workshop for maintenance. Now isn’t that a surprise ? She gets the opportunity to escape (No way !) and with the help of Evan (Bryan Greenberg), the designer of all these artificial beings, she tries to escape to the real world. Furthermore, there’s also the rebellious police officer Roy (Thomas Jane), whose biggest wish is to close down “Vice”.

    The concept offers opportunities but is certainly not very original. As Roy stipulates a few times : there’s a possibility that visitor get to familiar with deeds they can do in the park and that they can’t see the difference between the fictional world and reality. It could be that when they return to society, they start committing the same crimes over again. Besides naming this problem, there’s nothing they do with this assumption. The self-awareness that arises in Kelly, isn’t elaborated further. Ultimately, she’s an ordinary blonde without external technical faults who tries to flee. Before you know it an hour has passed without any significant actions. It’s all rather boring and tedious. To be honest I was struggling to keep my eyes open and it didn’t matter to me anymore how it would end.

    This is again a creation that can be added to Willis’s palmares under the title “Complete nonsense” and you surely shouldn’t waste any valuable time on it. The only positive point was those gorgeous ladies parading around. As an ultimate tribute here are some points that irritated me. For the umpteenth time a heroine manages to escape while being shot at by a small army of security agents. Even a bazooka couldn’t prevent that. They’d better replaced these officers with artificial intelligent personnel. Look at those “Chappie”-robots. They never miss. Kelly had the opportunity to get an update at a given moment so she could acquire certain talents. The moment she decided to update herself, so she could join the others for some action, I was wondering what this upgrade was about anyway. Because besides some clumsy throwing punches there wasn’t much special to admire. But above all it’s the demise of one of the action icons from the past, who plays one paltry role after the other. The only things he shows in these roles are comatose glances and some mumbled dialogs. You want to see this charismatic and extremely cool action figure in action again, then I suggest you start up “Die Hard”, “The Last Boy Scout” or “Twelve Monkeys” once again. Yippee ki yay … uh …. whatever!

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  • When it comes to lower budget film releases, the movie genre to probably have the most trouble looking anywhere near authentic is in the realm of science fiction. Most science fiction films today require a lot of heavy CGI and high tech gadgetry in order to look somewhat presentable for its genre and the audience viewing it. However, people tend to forget how ambitious their plans may be and the error of their ways ends up showing up in the end product. For this particular feature though, this is only one of a number of issues that is noticeable. Directed by Brian A. Miller, this would-be sci-fi thriller has a tough time throwing out any original ideas to the table that haven’t already been used. Writers Andre Fabrizio and Jeremy Passmore (both San Andreas (2015)) don’t seem to have a full grasp on what exactly they wanted the movie get across.

    The story takes place in some undated future where a new society arises called Vice. Established by a man named Julian (Bruce Willis), Vice was created as an outlet for the public, so that for any fantasy they wanted to make for themselves was possible. That meant no laws, no government, no responsibilities and no consequences. Making sure that any acts of violence were performed humanely, the company made A.I. units who looked, acted and lived like normal human beings but underneath there was software and electronics. After one A.I. unit named Kelly (Ambyr Childers) begins having repeated flashbacks of past events, she flees with Vice security on her tail hoping that Kelly won’t reveal to the public a unit became self aware. Also following closely behind is Roy Tadeski (Thomas Jane), a lone cop who’s not too fond of Vice for generic reasons pertaining to the attitudes people end up adopting after leaving the facility.

    Writing wise, it isn’t the absolute worst but it isn’t well thought out either. The screenplay tries to tackle a number of social and idealistic issues by borrowing ideas from older films like Westworld (1973), RoboCop (1987) and even The Purge (2013), but much of it is just underdeveloped and underplayed. The actors themselves are okay at best but you would figure, both Thomas Jane and Bruce Willis, who both have enough experience to act would make some kind of an impression. Thomas Jane has a couple of humorous moments in the film but much of it is just him mumbling through a toothpick. Willis is even more disappointing because his role really just feels like a call in. It would actually be more appropriate to say that Ambyr Childers as the rogue unit and Bryan Greenberg, who plays an important character in the plot, are far more interesting to watch than the two veterans previously mentioned. The story itself is not new but it can be tolerated. What isn’t tolerated is how it was executed like a standard cat and mouse chase.

    Because the majority of characters are quite predictable, there isn’t much tension to be found among the scenes that have time constraining ordeals. Another aspect to this movie that isn’t exploited properly are the sci-fi elements. Of everything described previously involving A.I. units and software, there is only one scene that looks remotely scientific. This involves rewiring a fuse inside a unit. The rest of the would-be science fiction like A.I. scenes are all done indirectly. An example of this is when Kelly receives an upgrade, which is done off screen. How disappointing – that’s really trying to stretch the audiences’ gullibility. The other major component that is sorely lacking any exploration is the paradise of Vice itself. The only thing audiences get to see in Vice are acts of murder, drinking and sex. Yeah these are pretty much the kinds of things most people would want to get away with, but with no laws wouldn’t there be more to that? Surely someone would be more creative do something crazier than that, of which isn’t it kind of the whole point?

    Also how does a visitor to Vice know the difference between a human and a unit? There really wasn’t any explanation given. The only science fiction like credit that can be given is the set production to the film. At least that looked somewhat apocalyptic in some respects and they didn’t look cheap either. The shootouts are alright but nothing inventive. The part that worked against that however was the cinematography shot by Yaron Levy. There were two things Levy kept doing that will probably annoy the viewers. First, there are two many shots with dutch and other cockeyed angles. The second is that when Levy’s camera is lateral, the camera keeps doing rotating 360 circumference shots. This is better than shaky camera by far but still frustrating at times. The film score however was better than expected. Composed by a trio of artists who call themselves Hybrid did an okay job. There was no main theme but they did have a number of tracks that worked, especially the ones involving Ambyr Childers and Bryan Greenberg. The thing I can’t believe is that the filmmakers actually thought that this movie would get a sequel with an extremely obvious cliffhanger.

    Its set production and music display decent quality with okay acting by the main cast but it’s more of a time waster than it is worth a watch. The writing is below average, the camerawork is frustrating at best, the action is too standard and the science fiction elements are barely used for a story based on it.

    Points Earned –> 4:10

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