Reviewed By

Christopher Armstead
The base concept for this little sci-fi thriller 'Vice' seems like a good one, and it should since it liberally borrows from quite a few decent sci-fi movies made in this past half century, but guess what… we don't care if a movie steals. At least within the observed bounds of copyright protections. All we care about, at the end of the day, is that this movie found some kind of way to entertain us, but unfortunately we had our qualms even before watching a single of frame of 'Vice' if for only one single reason… that being the presence of one Walter Bruce Willis on the box cover. Now don't get us wrong, because we love us some Bruce Willis here at the FCU but when Mr. Willis shows up in these lower budget movies we love to watch over here, he can't even fake like he wants to be in said movie. I mean I'm sure my man is getting a couple million bucks or something, and it's usually for a day or two worth of work, and most of the time the director, usually this director Brian A. Miller, doesn't even ask him to leave the room. Or even get out of his chair on some occasions. But yet Bruce still looks bored as hell, just like he did in this movie. Oh well, its good work if you can get it.

Willis is Julian Michaels, a businessman in the near future who has hijacked some guys artificial life technology and taken this tech and built a virtual playground where people's wildest dreams can come true. Unfortunately, the dreams for these people seem to consist of gang rape, regular rape, torture rape, choking people to death, and shooting people to death. Usually after they've been raped. Outstanding. You see these 'artificials' are just like real people with skin and organs and brains and feelings and all kinds of real stuff. I mean like, where's the fun in gang raping a robot, right? And then after the artificial is done being brutalized, it's back to the repair facility where they get patched up, their memories are wiped, and they get to do it all over again the next day. Apparently this craziness is doing bang up business for Julian and his corporation in this awful near future.
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There are some issues. One is tough cop Roy (Thomas Jane) who has observed that for some, simply raping fake humans isn't enough so they seep out and rape murder real humans. Roy doesn't like that and he doesn't like Julian's business model. More pressing is the artificial Kelly (Ambyr Childress) who thought she was about quit her bartending job to explore the world, but ended the day getting strangled to death, just like she has the last umpteen times she woke up in her apartment planning to see the world. Problem being is that she's starting to remember this stuff which is a problem. It becomes even more of a problem when Kelly busts free from fantasy rape land and is running around in the real world. This is a problem because if artificials start killing real people, this would be bad for Julian's business.

So Kelly's running around trying to figure some things out, she's being helped by the dude that created this tech who designed Kelly to look like his dead wife, which seems super unhealthy, and Tough Cop Roy has also figured some things out. Julian Michaels has to stop all this figuring out of stuff and people need to die. Now Julian himself isn't going out to kill these people because that would require Bruce Willis to get out of his chair and leave the room, which is why at some point this action needs to come to him. I would not be surprised if Julian Michaels dies in this movie, and I'd be even less surprised if he dies sitting in his chair.

So this movie 'Vice' is getting beat-up pretty good about now, and it deserves this beating for the most part because the film is rote, derivative and maudlin, but I have nothing but mad respect for the director of this film, Brian A. Miller. For one, he gets to make movies for a living, which is an awesome job to have. Secondly, he makes movies with cool people like John Cusack, and Bruce Willis and 50 Cent and Dave Bautista and Sonny Corleone. Third, he makes the kinds of movies I like to watch. Unfortunately, with the exception of maybe 'Officer Down', most of Mr. Miller's movies haven't been all that good, and we can throw 'Vice' on that pile as well.

Yes, Bruce Willis sleepwalking through this movie is a problem, but he really wasn't in this movie enough to sink it all by its lonesome. You see there's this odd disconnect going on within this film that's hard to shake. It looks slick, but it's sterile. There's action but the action is uninvolving and lackluster. Thomas Jane is doing his best to make up for Bruce Willis' boredom, but the cop character he's playing is woefully underdeveloped and his motivations murky. Ambyr Childress is pretty as Kelly, but she too is a sterile character stuck in a sterile environment. The one time things got interesting for Kelly, when she went back to the tech guy to get some 'upgrades', and we were kind of pumped because we figured Kelly was going to do some heavy duty kung fu ass kicking, but even that didn't materialize. And considering this is a film that borrows so liberally from other sources, we would've thought we would  be privy to a better narrative, but even that was undercooked.

We really wanted to like this movie. Well, we want to like every movie, but really did want to like this one. But alas all we got was a slick looking block of blah. That makes us sad.
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