Hard Kill review – Bruce Willis is having a laugh at our expense factory settings

1.5

Summary

Hard Kill amounts to nothing other than another aggressively bland Bruce Willis VOD vehicle.

The latest in a series of interminable VOD thrillers in which Bruce Willis spends the entire runtime sulking in a cupboard and then picks up a fee that would have been better spent on the production, Hard Kill is an aggressively bland movie. Watching it is like having some kind of lucid dream about men with beards firing prop guns in a dreary-looking factory, and you can’t wake up for at least 90 minutes. Willis has made loads of these over the last few years; if you strung all of them together you might just about be able to find a good idea or two, but none would be provided by Hard Kill, which scarcely has any ideas, let alone good ones.

Willis, in his infinite wage-stealing wisdom, plays Chalmers, the wealthy CEO of a technology company whose daughter (Lala Kent) has been kidnapped by a notorious terrorist known as “the Pardoner” (Sergio Rizzuto) as leverage over the codes to some vague destructive device. In response, Chalmers hires Miller (Jesse Metcalfe), a beardy and haunted former soldier who now does freelance jobs, and his team (Natalie Eva Marie, Swen Temmel, and Tyler Jon Olson), all of whom have previous with the Pardoner, to act as his security for an exchange. Chalmers plays bait, Miller and his pals are the muscle, and the bad guy provides a seemingly limitless stream of henchmen to barge into the single-location setting and get killed.

Chris LaMont and Joe Russo – yes, that one – have written a screenplay that takes great pleasure in making no sense, and director Matt Eskandari delights in contriving shootouts and punch-ups around it, almost daring you to ask some rather basic and logical questions, such as why Chalmers’ daughter, Ava, gave the device to terrorists in the first place, and why it takes her almost the entirety of Hard Kill to realize that was probably ill-advised. The specifics of this device, which should be laid out in clear terms to establish some stakes, are left until much later for the sake of something resembling a twist, and the fact that Chalmers’ capture is integral to the plan is deliberately withheld from Miller for absolutely no reason other than it makes for a bit of an argument, which I suppose qualifies as character drama.

If the action was decent, this might be forgivable, but there is no action, really, just scenes of the characters hiding behind things and shooting off into the distance. The idea that this is some crack mercenary squad is undermined at every available opportunity; my favorite of these instances is a bit where the team stealthily evades a patrol and then, the second they walk off-screen, start bellowing at one another in a cavernous room and shooting unsilenced weapons at CCTV cameras, jumping into frame right before they do so like they’re in a James Bond credits sequence.

What seems an increasingly hard kill is Bruce Willis’s professional reputation, but there must be easier ways of seeing it off than this.


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Jonathon Wilson

Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.

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