Term Life full movie review - Serviceable On The Run Crime Thriller
Vince Vaughn and Hailee Steinfield portray an estranged father and daughter bonding on the run from a vengeance-driven Mexican cartel boss and corrupt Atlanta cops in "Couples
Retreat" director Peter Billingsley's serviceable crime thriller "Term Life," co-starring Bill Paxton, Jonathon Banks, Jordi Mollà, Terrence Howard, Jon Favreau, Mike Epps, and Taraji P. Henson. Vaughn takes a break from cracking jokes to cracking heads as a detail-oriented criminal mastermind who plans heists. Everything is going well for him until he orchestrates a heist for the son of a Mexican cartel chieftain, Allejandro (William Levy of "The Single Moms Club") who wants to make up for his gambling losses without involving his father. Problems arise when a group of corrupt Atlanta cops, led by Detective Joe Keenan (Bill Paxton of "Aliens"), gun down Allejandro and his compadres after they steal piles of loot from an evidence locker. Director Peter Billingsley stages this heist with style. Of course, Nick Barrow (Vince Vaughn of "Wedding Crashers") doesn't know about Allejandro's father. After he finds out that everything went sideways, he contacts an older man, Harper (Jonathan Banks of "Beverly Hills Cop"), about the botched robbery, and our protagonist learns about Allejandro's father, Viktor (Jordi Mollà of "Riddick"), is coming to see him. Naturally, Nick searches for his daughter, Cate (Hailee Steinfield of "True Grit"), while he gets word that his alcoholic ex-wife, Lucy (Annabeth Gish of "Double Jeopardy"), has checked herself into detox to dry out. Basically, Nick is an anti-hero would winds up caught in an eventual cross-fire.
Nick manages to stay one jump ahead of the opposition after he has an encounter in an elevator with a dirty cop, struggles to disarm this detective, after the cop accidentally shoots Nick's go-between, Jimmy Lincoln (Jon Favreau of "Made"), and winds up killing him. Meanwhile, Keenan is hoping that Viktor will dispose of Nick, but things don't pan out for Keenan. Along the way, while they are bonding at a carnival, Nick and Cate run into a conscientious local Sheriff Braydon (Terrence Howard of "Iron Man") who eventually arrests Nick after a hustling foot chase and then turns him over to Viktor's goons decked like Atlanta Police. After Braydon discovers that Viktor's men were impersonating cops, he pursues them in one car while deputy follows him in another. Unfortunately, Braydon and his deputy are no match for these homicidal Hispanic henchmen, and they die in a brief but tragic roadside shootout. Sadly, the villains are ordinary with little to distinguish them from dozens of other felons. Viktor is slightly menacing, but Jordi has played more obnoxious villains. Meantime, Detective Keenan is a double-crossing dastard who refuses to capitulate and kills just about everybody in his crew once he learns that one detective was going to Internal Affairs.
Vince Vaughn doesn't usually play gun-wielding guys like Nick Barrow, so the role is a nice change of pace. He doesn't indulge in his usual motor-mouth Vince Vaughn shtick. Nevertheless, he looks every inch the role that he is playing and he is surrounded by some strong actors. One of the problems with the largely predictable "Term Life" is the number of celebrity actors who are squandered in insubstantial roles. Mind you, I liked "Term Life," and I will eventually read the graphic novel that scenarist Andy Lieberman wrote and adapted for the film. Director Peter Billingsley needs to get a few more action pictures under his belt. Indeed, "Term Life" displays lots of promise, loads of atmosphere, and robust acting. At the same time, it lacks that tear out the jugular quality that would have given it a feral sense of rage. Some of the shootouts and fistfights appear rather lackluster, but "Term Life" isn't an altogether routine effort. The cast is better than a picture like this deserves to boast, even it if misuses them. Perhaps the worst ill-used is actress Taraji P. Henson of "No Good Deed" who has one scene as an insurance agent named Samantha Thurman; she sets up a policy for Nick so that Cate will get a wad of dough if he dies. Altogether, I enjoyed "Term Life," and I'll probably take a gander at it again.