Die Hard. Pulp Fiction. The Sixth Sense. The Fifth Element. All these movies have two things in common: they are all enormous box office hits and contain the actor Bruce Willis. Easily the man has been a household name and billion-dollar generator for four decades, creating and redefining the action movie genre. He has spoken some of the most prolific and catchy lines that are still being repeated in pop culture today. Say “yippee ki yay…” and most will know what comes next from the very first Die Hard, released some 32 years ago.
“Zed’s dead, baby. Zed’s dead.” is another one that viewers instantly associate with Willis and Pulp Fiction. But with the highs also come the lows, and just as the man is famous for his blockbuster hits, he is equally famous for appearing in some box office duds. While there has definitely been more good than bad, Willis has also been known to pick a snoozer or two – can one say Hudson Hawk?
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With his latest movie release, Hard Kill, one wonders if perhaps he was doing a friend a favour, or maybe he lost a bet when he decided to make this movie. On paper, conceivably, Hard Kill might have seemed entertaining, but in execution it is filled with trite action dialogue, filmed in one depressing, forgettable location, and lacks any sort of plot worth remembering.
Hard Kill also stars Jesse Metcalfe (Desperate Housewives), shedding his pretty boy persona to become the action star protecting Willis’ character, Chalmers, from the bad guy simply named The Pardoner (played by Sergio Rizzuto). The main gist of the flick is that a group of mercenaries are hired by Chalmers, in order to protect himself and his daughter – and the quantum AI they’ve created that somehow has the capacity to save humanity. But of course with it falling into the wrong hands a baddie can also destroy it. Never having to explain exactly why or how this would happen is the type of plot hole that this movie delivers.
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Willis’ on-screen daughter, Eva Chalmers, is portrayed by Lala Kent, a regular on the reality TV series Vanderpump Rules. Apparently Kent was meant for bigger and better things than reality TV, but one might wonder if her landing this movie is more to do with personal connections than with her acting ability. She deserves some credit though, since it is probably very difficult to act with barely a script.
However, Kent is still not the worst part of this movie, but that is not saying much since there is so much wrong with this film. For example, at one point, The Pardoner has both Eva and her dad captive and both are restrained at their wrists, but not smart enough to get up and run out of the room once all the bad guys go running off for some reason. How about the overused mechanism of one of the good guys turning bad, or one of the bad guys turning good and just disappearing from the rest of the film? Got it. How about being lured into a job that really isn’t the job you were hired for but instead is something else? That one is in there too.
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The one tiny bright spot in all of this is Natalie Eva Marie (WWE SmackDown), formerly known as Eva Marie to wrestling fans. Hired as one of the mercenaries, her presence raises this dismal flick from hopelessly unwatchable to not-completely-awful to watch.
Sometimes movies are so bad that watching them somehow becomes enjoyable, in that making fun of them becomes the entertainment. However, Hard Kill misses even this aspiration, and instead is just all bad.