Review: Vice (2015)


Director: Brian A Miller | 96 minutes | action, adventure, science fiction, thriller | Actors: Ambyr Childers, Thomas Jane, Bryan Greenberg, Bruce Willis, Johnathon Schaech, Charlotte Kirk, Brett Granstaff, Ryan O’Nan, David Gordon, Colin Egglesfield, Cameron Brexler, Jesse Pruett, Tyler Jon Olson, Don Harvey, Lydia Hull

Imagine a holiday resort where you can practice your wildest fantasies with impunity. What are you going for then? Eat more ice cream than you can eat? Sunbathing for hours without getting burned? No, Julian Michaels (Bruce Willis in bored-watching mode) knows better: men (don’t women need a vacation?) Want to rob banks and rape women! Let him just have the concept in his hands, with which that is possible: in his ‘Vice’, a complex in a large American city where he has received immunity from the corrupt police, customers with so-called artificials (extremely real looking robots with feelings and the like!). The day after, everything is reset, the memory of the artificials is erased or modified and eventually they are brought back to life when a fight got out of hand.

Agent Roy (Thomas Jane) is not too fond of Vice and his owner, he is sure that the people who once vacationed there have lost their sense of reality in real life and just continue their criminal activities. Unfortunately for him, he is practically on his own and his boss has put him on another case. In the meantime, we are introduced to artificial Kelly (Ambyr Childers), whose dream provides the first impetus for problems. Artificials are not supposed to have memories, something has apparently gone wrong with Kelly. As she leaves the resort in fear and panic through the images on her retina, Julian orders his henchmen to track her down before the world learns that she is an artificial. Then Roy finds her too and Kelly has to do everything she can to save her life (although she now knows what that is worth).

The idea behind “Vice” sounds quite original (for those who haven’t heard of Michael Crichton’s “Westworld” from 1973 then). However, there are still a few things to do with the implementation. First, too little is done with the concept of artificial intelligence and virtual reality. There is a ball thrown by Roy’s character, but such a comment lingers in a vacuum and the potential (be it satire or criticism) is not fully exploited. Second, it is hard to imagine that a company like Vice could actually exist. The filmmaker does nothing at all to make that credible and has his characters randomly raped, mistreating women and murdering, just because it just looks spectacular on the screen.

Much of “Vice” consists of boring, long-winded shooting and chase scenes, and it’s just laughable how poorly some of the guards can aim. Some dialogues are cringe-inducing in all their explanations and that blue-gray haze over the image is also quickly bored. By the way, “Vice” is not completely without entertainment factor; Ambyr Childers makes the most of her role, Thomas Jane has played better roles but shouldn’t be ashamed of this film either. The playing time is acceptable. The film is still quite enjoyable for not too demanding action movie enthusiasts, but it is far from a memorable science fiction film.

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