There was a time when Bruce Willis’ name on a movie would make me take notice, but that was back in his heyday, the main reasons I wanted to review Vice was the plot seemed fairly interesting and Thomas Jane was in it. And Jane is almost unrecognizable. When I first saw the trailer it took me a while to recognize him. Mostly due to his long hair, I think, but he’s older now and it also could be a combination of that and his age. It wasn’t until he spoke that I finally realized it was him.
In an undetermined future not too far removed from now artificial intelligence has finally been created, but a law was quickly passed that forbid them to intermingle with the public. Why this should be is never fully explained. Then this Julian Michaels (Bruce Willis) comes along, takes over the company and shuts out the creator, Evan Lund (Bryan Greenberg). For reasons only known to Michaels he decides to create this “resort” called, Vice, where you can come and play out any fantasy, sick or mainstream, with these artificials, as they’re now called. I think there’s a level of Hell like this. Anyway, the downside to this resort is all the rich psychos and borderlines who are allowed to actualize their sick fantasies (most of which involve beating and killing women) carry it over to the “real world” when they leave. The result: an uptick in violent crime.
This is where seasoned dick, Roy Tedeskey (Thomas Jane) comes in. He doesn’t like Vice because of this and he feels more like a garbage man than a cop, cleaning up all the shit Vice creates in his world. It’s obvious he wants to shut the place down and runs into occasional roadblocks with his Captain because of it.
Now we’re introduced to Kelly (Ambyr Childers) who’s an artifical working in Vice, but all the artificials who have terrible things happen to them, even death, are taken “backstage” cleaned up and fixed, memory wiped and put back into the “resort” the next night running the same character loop they’ve been programmed to, even the same lines, with no memory of last night’s escapades, but Kelly is different. During a casual conversation she has a flashback of being strangled. Michaels who monitors everything behind the scenes sends out a crew to take her back and reboot her, but the creepy technician in charge tells the newly evolving AI this procedure is going to hurt like hell, because they’ll need to make her recall everything that’s ever happened to her before they can erase each memory one at a time.
AI adrenaline kicks in as this happens and she breaks her bonds and escapes into the real world. Tracking her via her bracelet that all artificials wear but are programmed not to see Michaels sends out a team of heavily armed men led by another creepy Vice employee, Chris (Johnathon Schaech), who may or may not be an artificial himself, to bring her back “dead or alive.” Action and chase scenes ensue; Kelly meets her maker and finds out she’s a copy of his dead girlfriend; more action and chase scenes ensue; Tedeskey and Kelly team up to shut Vice down; Vice is shut down, and a character twist is revealed.
As I mentioned before the Westworld concept is interesting as it gets updated for our twisted and devolving world, and while Jane’s Tedeski is the most interesting character in the movie, but Willis sleepwalks through his role, albeit all creepy like. It was all interesting to watch but for such a heady concept it doesn’t go very deep and you need this type of flick to mine some serious wealth.
The flick also left me with some questions like if normals and artificials are mingling together how does a dirtbag know if he’s killing a real person or an artifical? How do they tell each other apart? And there who the hell is Jullian Michaels anyway? There’s a twist with his character at the very end, I’m sure you’ll be able to guess, that leaves you scratching your head. With these lingering queries I had I got the feeling this concept is meant to a franchise. I won’t know for sure until I listen to the commentary tonight.
Video/Audio/Subtitles: widescreen 2.40:1 anamorphic—English Dolby Digital 5.1—English and Spanish subs only.
The picture and audio were to my liking. Nothing wrong. Everything fine. Keep in mind this is the DVD and not the blu-ray.
- Commentary with Director Brian A. Miller and actors Ambyr Childers and Bryan Greenberg
- Behind The Scenes Of “Vice” (12:46)
- Cast And Crew Interviews (Brian A. Miller—3:32; Thomas Jane—5:35; Ambyr Childers—3:02; Bryan Greenberg—5:43; Jonathon Schaech—3:50; Andre Fabrizio—5:08; Jeremy Passmore—5:07)
Now that I’ve watched this a second time, and with the commentary running, I noticed things I hadn’t the first time around. Things like the history of the AIs and the creation of the Vice building which is visually chronicled in the opening. I saw these but it didn’t really register until director Brian Miller expounded on them, and I guess I totally glossed over that dialogue where that technician who’s about to reboot Kelly mentions how the clients in the resort tell who’s human and who’s not. The bracelets I mentioned is how that’s accomplished.
Despite having some of my queries answered I still find the movie to be a one time watch only. Oh, and this is another flick where I was also rather smitten with the score.