Vice full movie review - Worst Movie of the Decade So Far
I don't know how this movie fell on my lap. It was either because it was one of those movies that were available on VOD while it was playing in theaters, or because someone wanted to see me to rip apart a Bruce Willis movie.
If you were that person, then your wish is my command. This movie is a desperate sci-fi action film that has little effort in everything they are doing. The sci-fi aspect is an unoriginal dystopian setting, the action is lazy and uninspired, and they both create an absurd plot that begs for the hand to meet the forehead. Vice is not only the worst movie of a 3-week old 2015, it's probably the worst movie of the 2010's so far. Battleship, A Thousand Words, The Last Airbender, Movie 43, Vampires Suck, Best Night Ever, and Transformers: Age of Extinction. They are ALL better movies than this!
First, let's talk about the story. Upon first glance, the idea is a typical dystopian sci-fi in that Blade Runner/Minority Report vein. But when you look at it closer, the ugliness really shows. The film opens with a robbery, which is revealed to be part of an advertisement for a resort called VICE, created by Julian Michaels (Willis). In this resort, there are no laws, the residents are free to do whatever they want to do, and the employees are artificial robots that are designed to look and act like humans. From the beginning, I was disgusted at what they are allowed to get away with. They are allowed to rob banks, shoot people, have sex anywhere (there's actually an orgy club in VICE), and abuse women (real or artificial). An artificial bartender named Kelly (Ambyr Childers) gets stopped in a parking lot one night by some bad guys. They kill her best friend before Kelly herself is choked to death. Both women get reset by VICE, and they wake up doing the same thing from the day before. Apparently, Kelly had too many resets, because later that night, she becomes self-aware and tries to get away from VICE. Everything about the plot and structure is wrong. This unrealistic and terrible story leaves you dumbstruck. These crimes are sexist in the most extreme way possible. The dialogue contains so much mean-spirited cursing and illogical exposition. They even mention over and over again that these artificials can act and feel the same way that humans can with real emotions.
Unfortunately, they forgot to mention that the most artificial thing in this movie is the acting. On top of the misogyny and mean-spirited nature, the actors are just coasting in underdeveloped characters. The main character is a cop (in a lawless city) named Roy (Thomas Jane), who is silently trying to take down VICE, and he uses Kelly to help him get the job done. His motivation is never truly revealed, and it isn't until the third act when we find out whose side he's on. Another character worth mentioning is Chris (Jonathon Schaeck), who serves as Julian's right-hand man and barely serves anything to the role or the story. In a step down from his brief time at HBO, Bryan Greenberg plays Evan, who's been researching the secrets to VICE and their artificials. He appears midway and gets killed right before the third act, so he has a short amount of time to assist Kelly against VICE, and while he's the closest thing to a real character, the movie never settles on his purpose. And Bruce Willis, who's been a hero in most of his movies, is somewhat unmotivated in his role as the villain. His character barely allows him to have any action scenes. Now, for the "heroine" Kelly, she's practically a dummy in distress. At the beginning, she's a tool for VICE, and she's on the escape throughout the second act. Then by the time she aligns with Roy, she's now a tool for him. She spends most of the movie trying to get free, and at the end, she's in the exact same position: being used by someone. Kelly is not a heroine. She has no character, no appeal, and no development.
Now, we need to get to the production and effects. I did research on the director, Brian A. Miller, and the results were horrifying. For his 2014 film, The Outsider, only one positive review was made, bringing its Tomatometer to 5%. He also did a movie in 2014 with Bruce Willis titled The Prince. That movie is at 0% on the Tomatometer, and its audience score is at 25%. Then I looked at Vice, and it not only has a 0% rating on the Tomatometer, but it also has a 0% rating on the audience score! And it's easy to see why. The opening tries with a tracking shot, but it comes out like the SyFy channel and TNT's offspring. The rest of the shots just give you a headache. The pace of the movie is way too rushed to the point where you want to tune out. Most of the action's just firing guns, and when they are shooting at Kelly, their aim is way off. Plus, the climax never holds any excitement or logic. Then it ends with too many plot holes. They never really specify a resolution that's understandable or complete. It's like they're trying to set something up for a sequel, but this movie's too much of a joke to pull it off.
If Paddington is the exception to the rule that movies in January are stinkers, then Vice is a movie that reinforces the rule in spades. The cinematography's nauseating, the acting's monotonous, the dialogue's atrocious, and the plot is JAW-DROPPINGLY TERRIBLE! Not even in a dystopian future where some of these crimes are condoned would this movie ever get a recommendation.