(US/UK - 2015)
Directed by Steven C. Miller. Written by Ulair Aleem and Max Adams. Cast: Kellan Lutz, Bruce Willis, Gina Carano, D.B. Sweeney, Dan Bilzerian, Joshua Mikel, Steve Coulter, Olga Valentina, Lydia Hull, Tyler J. Olsen, Summer Altice, Rob Steinberg, Simon Rhee, Hwan Tran. (R, 82 mins)
It's not unusual for an A-list actor to hit a rough patch and go slumming in second-tier work for a brief or extended period of time (Nicolas Cage and John Cusack immediately come to mind). It happens to almost any big star whose career has any kind of multi-decade longevity. However, it is unusual for an A-lister to tackle these kinds of B-movie projects by choice, in the midst of an otherwise solid period. Four years ago, on the heels of his 2010 hit RED, Bruce Willis turned up in a couple of low-grade, straight-to-DVD 50 Cent productions (SET-UP and CATCH .44) and it seemed like an odd move at the time, almost like he was doing a favor for someone. Then, when he wasn't in something acclaimed like Wes Anderson's MOONRISE KINGDOM and Rian Johnson's LOOPER or in the big-budget A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD, G.I. JOE: RETALIATION, and RED 2, he was popping up in another 50 Cent production, FIRE WITH FIRE. In the last couple of years, Willis has appeared in such forgettable Redbox-ready trifles as THE PRINCE and the WESTWORLD ripoff VICE, and his roles in both of them (as well as FIRE WITH FIRE), mainly confine him to a desk where he barks orders at underlings in person or on the phone, in shots that require minimal set-up and probably keep him on the set for two days tops. In VICE, Willis plays the CEO of an adult amusement park where sex robots revolt by going offline and becoming sentient. Thomas Jane is the star, but there's periodic cutaways to Willis, looking like he's battling a case of indigestion as he observes a row of monitors in a control room and mutters things like "Whaddaya got?" and "Bring up the temperature in Sector Five," until the androids rebel and he gets to yell "Initiate the kill switch!" Willis' descent into VOD/DTV irrelevance is odd in that it seems to be by choice. He was still getting major, starring Hollywood gigs when he started dabbling in this shady netherworld and now, aside from his iffy turn in the current stage production of MISERY, it's these slapdash paycheck jobs that seem to constitute the overwhelming majority of his cinematic work these days.
HEIST, which featured Robert De Niro, himself no stranger to inexplicably slumming in B-movies between high-profile studio titles. Rather than sitting behind a desk, Willis spends most of his limited screen time in EXTRACTION zip-tied to a chair in a dimly-lit warehouse office. He plays Leonard Turner, a former CIA legend forced into retirement a decade earlier after a terrorist outfit he was pursuing attacked his home and murdered his wife. His teenage son Harry survived the tragedy, and in the present day, played by the almost-lifelike Kellan Lutz (the TWILIGHT series), is in the CIA training program in Prague, against his father's wishes. Disregarding the orders of his superiors and his mentor and dad's old partner Robertson (D.B. Sweeney), Harry takes matters into his own hands when Leonard is kidnapped in Newark by a group of domestic terrorists who have stolen "The Condor," described as "the ultimate hack" (not to be confused with 2015 Bruce Willis), a device that, once activated, can control any government's electronic communication--internet, e-mail, GPS, etc. It can only be deactivated by "The Patriarch Key," which must be uploaded directly into The Condor. Teaming with CIA agent and ex-girlfriend Victoria Fair (Gina Carano), Harry heads to Newark to rescue his estranged father, resulting in two fight scenes at bars, a few explosions, some attempts at witty repartee (the ass-kicking Carano doesn't seem like someone who would start a sentence with "You know, this totes reminds me of..."), and a shootout at an abandoned warehouse, just in case you were concerned that EXTRACTION would do something completely insane and even slightly stray from the path of utterly formulaic convention.
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another zero on this!"