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Haunted Sideshow

Dustin Putman

Vice  (2015)

Reviewed for by Dustin Putman

The Film
1.5 Stars
(Release Date: March 17, 2015) – If one were to describe "Vice" as "A.I.: Artificial Intelligence" meets "Westworld," it wouldn't exactly be an inaccurate comparison, but it would be giving too much credit to a film that tackles its provocative premise in the most lazy, run-of-the-mill fashion imaginable. At the sleek, upscale Vice resort, clients are given the chance to live out their every urge and fantasy. Detective Roy Tedeschi's (Thomas Jane) investigation into this crooked utopian paradise (that, weirdly enough, is jammed right in the middle of a scuzzy downtown area) coincides with Vice bartender Kelly's (Ambyr Childers) discovery that she is an "artificial," programmed to repeat the same day on a continuous loop without ever realizing she isn't human. Inundated by memories she shouldn't be having, Kelly goes on the run, teaming up with her creator, Evan (Bryan Greenberg), and later Tedeschi to take down the corrupt retreat.

Judging by all of the nondescript streets and synthetically decorated warehouses where the vast majority of scenes take place, "Vice" spent the bulk of its budget on its lead actors and had precious little left over for anything else. Low-rent and wasteful of some intriguing ideas, the film doesn't bother to explore the moral implications of its perverse anything-goes resort or Kelly's newfound knowledge that she is a robot. Instead, director Brian A. Miller (2014's "The Outsider") and screenwriters Andre Fabrizio and Jeremy Passmore (2012's "Red Dawn") switch to autopilot following an involving first act where Kelly's dreams for the future are ripped out from under her. What follows is an increasingly tedious chase movie full of shootouts and not much else, performed by actors who should know better. As Detective Tedeschi, Thomas Jane (2014's "White Bird in a Blizzard") is established as a would-be badass in the way that he endlessly walks around using a match as a toothpick. His stringy, greasy wig is a fright, reminding of wet dog hair. As smarmy Vice CEO Julian Michaels, Bruce Willis (2013's "Red 2") continues to prove that he no longer has any career ambitions outside of earning a paycheck. The saving grace of "Vice" is the striking Ambyr Childers (2012's "The Master"), who is so instantly warm and likable as Kelly that she manages to carry the movie when everything else around her has become throwaway hooey.

Read Dustin's Theatrical Review

Blu-ray Picture/Sound

"Vice" arrives on Blu-ray with a chilly, blue-and-metallic-tinted 1080p transfer. The image is clean and unmistakably high-def quality, but the digitally photographed, heavily processed aesthetics give the picture a somewhat flat appearance. Black crush is also problematic on a few occasions, with detail fading away at the sight of dark clothing and cars. The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio is noticeably more rousing. This is an active, guns-blazing sonic presentation with dynamic range and a solid mix of music, sound effects and dialogue.

Blu-ray Features
  • Audio Commentary with director Brian A. Miller and actors Ambyr Childers and Bryan Greenberg
  • Behind the Scenes of Vice (12:47, HD)
  • Interviews with Cast and Crew
    • Director Bryan A. Miller (3:32, HD)
    • Thomas Jane (5:35, HD)
    • Ambyr Childers (3:01, HD)
    • Bryan Greenberg (5:42, HD)
    • Johnathon Schaech (3:50, HD)
    • Writer Andre Fabrizio (5:07, HD)
    • Writer Jeremy Passmore (5:06, HD)
  • Trailer (2:33, HD)
Bottom Line
Distributed on Blu-ray by Lionsgate, "Vice" is a largely forgettable action picture that takes an ambitious concept and squanders it for 96 minutes. Ambyr Childers' performance is the highlight; she has what it takes to be a star just as long as she can find better material than what she is given here. The rest of the film is, unfortunately, disposable. For fans of any of the cast members who will faithfully see anything they are in, a rental is in order. For the rest of prospective audiences, there are plenty of better viewing choices out there in the marketplace.

Buy Now at Best Buy!

© 2015 by Dustin Putman
Dustin Putman


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