By Jacob Montgomery (Texas)
Who doesn’t enjoy watching Bruce Willis go out and kick the snot out of unapologetically evil baddies? Sometimes, that’s all you need for a fun action film. However, even Willis’ awesomeness cannot save this disappointing film.
The plot of the film, while generic, does have some potential. A former hostage negotiator (Willis) has moved to a small town, after a mistake cost a young boy and his mother their lives. However, after 3 guys break into a house and hold the family hostage, he has to try and find a way to get the family out of there unharmed. However, he’s in for a rude awakening at just how serious the situation is, when his own wife and daughter have been kidnapped, and the bad guys will only let them go if he manages to retrieve something from inside the house.
See, part of the problem with the film is that it’s a little too complicated. It starts off with an okay premise, just a hostage negotiator dealing with 3 guys in a house, but then they throw this twist that actually makes the film way more complicated than it needed to be, making it very hard to follow at times. And that’s not helped at all, by the sometimes disjointed pacing, that makes it hard to tell how much time has passed and where certain characters are. But still, I do enjoy complicated stories sometimes, and that’s just one problem with the plot. After all, you go to a Bruce Willis film for the action, not the plot.
Except that isn’t up to par either. The film takes itself way too seriously when it comes to the action. The film feels that it’s necessary to show every single gory detail of every single death, and it lingers, and doesn’t back off. Normally, I don’t mind that, but here the violence is way too brutal and over-the-top. The slow motion of the death scenes is very jarring and it invites us to watch every unpleasantly bloody detail, almost as if it’s chastising us for liking action films. I can stand brutal films fine, and can even understand it if that’s the point of the story, like with Saving Private Ryan or Prisoners. But audiences were promised a great, bloody, fun time you’d expect from Bruce Willis, not a serious film about home invasion. And even some of the deaths are creatively over-the-top so that it feels like it wants to be a fun action film, but it trapped and surrounded by the unrelenting brutality. It just can’t pick a tone.
This isn’t by any means an awful film. There are some scenes that do wriggle some suspense, I was interested enough that I did want to know what it ended, and the actual set-up itself is fine, if a bit too obvious at times. There are even a few inventive action scenes that are done correctly, and can be fun to watch.
It’s just that looking over the entire film as a whole, I feel like it’s a big missed opportunity. This could’ve been a really fun action romp, but instead they merely turned it into forgettable and graphic action fodder. One of the things that you should never do is when you make a film this brutal and unpleasant to watch at times, you do not want to make it unmemorable, and that’s exactly what they did.
Maybe if you’re a Bruce Willis fan and know how violent the film is, then maybe you’ll like it fine. Me personally, I just wouldn’t bother.