Vice might’ve had an interesting premise but it was all thrown away from cheap action and clichés galore that borrows often from better movies. The acting, save maybe for Ambyr Childers, was so average (at best) and the direction merely went through the motions with a lot of ho-hum, even boring, action sequences.
Genre(s): Science Fiction, Action
Lionsgate | R – 96 min. – $24.98 | March 17, 2015
THE MOVIE – 2.0/5
There’s a good reason Vice took the direct-to-video/VOM route as it’s a cliché of a sci-fi action-adventure that culls from movies like Blade Runner, Surrogates (also starring Bruce Willis) and unbelievably RoboCop, for which the writers downright steal a plot device. But beyond all that, it’s a mess of a film with little redeemable value save maybe for the film’s heroine…
Vice opens in an undetermined time in the future where A.I. technology has been outlawed by rich and powerful Julian Michaels (BRUCE WILLIS) used his connections and got an exception to open a resort, named “Vice,” populated by human-like robots that can be abused, raped, beaten or whatever the dark heart of the rich asshole desires with no repercussions. These bots are then fixed up and memories wiped and their storyline reset for a new day of abuse, all of which they feel at the time. One such instance is a bartender named Kelly (AMBYR CHILDERS) whose story is celebrating her last day of work with her best friend (also a bot). As the pair walk out after work, they are attacked by a lowlife, the friend getting shot and Kelly strangled to death, in keeping with the lowlife’s fantasy of abusing and murdering women.
This is really where any sense of originality Vice has to offer comes to an end. What follows is any number of clichés.
Speaking of which, we meet hard-nosed Detective Roy Tedeschi (THOMAS JANE), a cop who does not like what Vice does knowing the artificial atrocities that occur inside eventually pour out in the real world for him and others to clean up. Despite specific instructions from his captain to lay off of Michaels’ business, as the company is responsible for the half of the city’s tax revenue, Tedeschi ignores the captain (making claim to rogue status) but Vice and the trouble it brings to society, come spilling out.
In the meantime, after being rebooted the night before, Kelly begins experiencing flashbacks of her death and is brought in for an adjustment which involves flooding her mind with memories (mostly painful) of the past atrocities inflicted on her, during which she manages to escape after a barrage of gunfire from guards who woefully miss their target. After a run-in with an unsavory fellow, as well as a crew sent by Michaels to search for her – because if word got out of an escaped “resident,” his business would be ruined – she stumbles upon an abandoned church. There, she finds Evan (BRYAN GREENBERG), whom she had met at the bar the night before. She discovers that Evan in fact created her in the image of his deceased wife but his work was taken away from him by Michaels, and that includes Kelly.
Kelly and Evan receive help from a hacker to disappear to an island with no technology but hot on their trail is Tedeschi and on his trail is Michaels’ crew loaded and ready to expel more ammo and bodies for Tedeschi to expend with return fire which seems to hit at a 98% rate.
Even hours later, I still am not sure what exactly I saw but all I know is, there have been many better movies Vice culls from including Blade Runner and Surrogates (by comparison, a solid movie… not much of a compliment, of course). Save for the story at its core, there’s not much here that is original and when it comes to the acting, not much to really admire in that arena either though to her credit, Ambyr Childers wasn’t half bad and did the best with what she had to work with. Thomas Jane seemed to be playing a cartoon caricature (and is keeping that hairstyle seen in Drive Hard) and Bruce Willis cashes in another quick paycheck and only appears in the movie for maybe 10-minutes, each one he couldn’t give a damn about the story or character.
Vice comes from the same folks behind The Prince including director Brian A. Miller and screenwriting duo Jeremy Passmore and Andre Fabrizio who might be fans of old school, 1980s action but the execution of making an all around entertaining flick is utterly lacking. I didn’t find much to admire out of this latest direct-to-video drivel and unlike The Prince, this one might be a little more frustrating due to the core story that could’ve been exploited but instead delves into the generic, point-and-shoot, action-adventure territory.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 2.5/5
This release comes with a glossy, reflective and title-embossed slip cover. Inside is a redemption code for the UltraViolet Digital HD Copy.
Audio Commentary features Director Brian A. Miller & Actors Ambyr Childers and Bryan Greenberg in which the trio gives their perspective on the film and although not the most riveting track, some behind-the-scenes info is provided.
Behind the Scenes of Vice (12:47; HD) is your basic EPK featurette providing a rundown of the plot and characters as they chat about the project.
Interviews with Cast and Crew (TRT 31:53; HD) is a collection of interview footage with Director Brian A. Miller (3:32), Thomas Jane (5:35), Ambyr Childers (3:01), Bryan Greenberg (5:42), Johnathon Schaech (3:50) and Co-Writers Andre Fabrizio (5:07) and Jeremy Passmore (5:06)
Theatrical Trailer (2:33; HD)
VIDEO – 4.25/5
Vice brings to life all your desires on Blu-ray presented with a 2.40 widescreen aspect ratio and a 1080p high-definition transfer. The picture doesn’t look half bad with sharp detail levels throughout yet darker shots do show some artifacts, though nothing overabundant or distracting. Colors appear to be well balanced, and not oversaturated, with good skin tones throughout.
AUDIO – 4.25/5
The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track provides for decent depth between good dialogue levels and the overabundant gunfire and other action-oriented elements. The score by Hybrid is softer but thankfully never overbearing. All that said, it’s not the most engrossing lossless track I’ve come across but is more than effective for the genre even if it isn’t reference quality (not that I would want to show this movie to anyone anyway).
OVERALL – 2.25/5
Overall, Vice might’ve had an interesting premise but it was all thrown away from cheap action and clichés galore that borrows often from better movies. The acting, save maybe for Ambyr Childers, was so average (at best) and the direction merely went through the motions with a lot of ho-hum, even boring, action sequences. The Blu-ray released by Lionsgate offers good video/audio transfers while the bonus material was a tad more than what I expected.
Brian Oliver, The Movieman
Check out some more screen caps by going to page 2. Please note, these do contain spoilers.