MOVIE: ACTS OF VIOLENCE
STARRING: BRUCE WILLIS; COLE HAUSER; SOFIA BUSH; SHAWN ASHMORE; MIKE EPPS
DIRECTED BY: BRETT DONOWHO
AMovieGuy.com's RATING: 1 STAR (Out of 4)
Every year we see Nicolas Cage in a direct to VOD movie, I mean, he has to pay the bills, and at this point, I think he genuinely enjoys it. Fans even give Cage a pass, watching his work religiously, like a hit reality TV show, audiences want to see what bat-shit crazy performance he will deliver next. The same cannot be said for Bruce Willis, who has retreated to a strange corner of cinema these days, giving the bare minimum effort, and showing up in low-budget cop dramas such as Acts of Violence. This is a movie that was most likely filmed in a weekend and allows director Brett Downowho a chance to work with talent that he admires. That amounts to very little, in a film about three brothers tracking down the men who kidnapped the youngest brothers fiancee, using heavy artillery, and stupidity. Early in the year, Acts of Violence is the funniest movie of 2018. It's not a comedy.
It starts with ex-Marine Deklan (Cole Hauser) talking to a psychiatrist about his traumatic experiences fighting in “the war”. What war? I'm not really sure, but with night-vision scenes, and desert battles, I'm guessing Iraq? He's a guy on edge, but his two brothers Roman (Ashton Holmes) and Brandon (Shawn Ashmore) are enjoying a fun day of (forced) laughs, celebrating Roman & Mia's (Melissa Bolona) recent engagement. The happy couple goes to their bachelor and bachelorette parties, but when Mia refuses a pair of dirty thugs rude advances, they decide to abduct her for their sex trafficking ring. In enters detective James Avery (Willis) and his partner Brooke Baker (Sophia Bush) who have been tracking down these drug dealers and thugs, but the brothers take action into their own hands to save Mia.
The plot is ultimately not that important, as it becomes a standard set-up of “good guys” versus “bad guys”, but with Bruce Willis on the poster don't get yourself too excited. The Die Hard action star's work is limited to sitting behind desks with manilla folders, painfully delivering walk & talk dialogue with Sophia Bush, and letting the brothers illegally do his detective work for him. The majority of the emotions are forced and the action is forgettable. Acts of Violence is like if Dirty Harry took a vacation and let a Walmart militia do his police work.
That's not to say that all the efforts are a waste as director Brett Donowho seems to know how to pace a film and his work with military gear is impressive. Sadly, that stuff would work better in a different movie. Acts of Violence has a clunky screenplay by Nicolas Aaron Mezzanatto and is pathetically bloodless. In one scene, Mike Epps' drug & sex-trafficking bad guy shoots one of his lowly body guards at point-blank range, which draws not a speck of blood, and no reaction from the people standing next to him. Multiple scenes are laughable, including an opening rooftop fight scene between Willis and a goon where few, if any of the punches land. If one pays attention enough, you can see plenty of continuity problems, with characters as deep as a puddle.
Acts of Violence is an early stinker for the new year. This is a movie with a capable cast (Sophia Bush has nothing to do here) and a story that would work better in an episode of Law & Order: SVU. It's so bad, I found myself laughing a lot. Characters die and we are supposed to care? Police don't care that civilians have arsenals of weapons to hunt down bad guys? And Bruce Willis could care less about trying to give more than what his contract pays him. Acts of Violence is a waste of everyones time. Now if Nicolas Cage was in this movie, that would at least be something to write about.
Written by: Leo Brady