Vice (2015)

(On Cable TV, January 2016) Bad ideas never die, and that’s how Westworld’s basic concepts can be filed off and reborn decades later in a tepid low-budget thriller like Vice. Nominally about a theme park where clients can indulge in their wildest fantasies at the expense of the androids animated for their enjoyment, Vice clearly doesn’t know what to do with its own premise and quickly veers off in a dull stunted ennui. Bruce Willis briefly appears as the evil CEO, but (as in many of his low-budget efforts lately) seems bored by all aspects of the production. Thomas Jane and Ambyr Childers don’t really pick up the slack as, respectively, a dogged police officer and a robot who experiences flashes of her previous lives after being violently deactivated. For Science Fiction fans, Vice fails because it’s almost unbearably timid in the way it approaches its subject. Limited by budget and imagination, it barely scratches the surface of its possibilities—and the idea to transform its robots into likable victims quickly bogs down in clichés piled upon mawkishness. For action junkies, Vice doesn’t do much better: despite occasionally clever directing by Brian A. Miller, it seems uninteresting and then unendurable: it leaves no lasting impression and become undistinguishable from so many other cheap SF movies released straight-to-VOD. Let’s hope that Miller’s next film will be more ambitious and striking than Vice.

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