Duplication Is No "Vice" Review

Considering Hollywood’s ever-increasing fear of making anything groundbreaking and original, preferring instead to rely on unnecessary sequels and remakes of proven material, I was dismayed but not terribly shocked. when I heard that Ridley Scott was planning to produce a sequel to Blade Runner. One of the greatest science-fiction films ever made, the film has truly earned the label of cult classic; why sully its legacy by creating what is guaranteed to be a lesser imitator? Especially when so many films that fall under that umbrella already exist?

Exhibit A: Vice, a big, dumb, thriller starring Bruce Willis, Thomas Jane, Ambyr Childers and Bryan Greenberg that really, really wishes it was Blade Runner, right down to the big blonde bangs and bold black eyeliner--so obviously reminiscent of Daryl Hannah’s replicant, Pris--that Childers sports as an artificial named Kelly. Kelly works as a bartender at Vice, a resort created by mogul Julian Michaels (Willis) that allows guests to live out their most decadent and despicable fantasies with no consequences--including, rape, robbery and murder. The resort is populated by artificials: humanoid replicas who have no idea that they aren’t human and that they are living the same day over and over inside the resort, where they are treated like disposable toys by the guests. The artificials experience the same fear at gunpoint and the same horror at being violated that a human would; the only difference is, they won’t remember it. Even if they die, they are just rebooted the next day and start all over again.

This is what happens to Kelly after she is murdered by a guest. However, instead of being wiped clean, the next day Kelly finds herself having flashbacks to this traumatic event--not to mention many others. For some reason, she is becoming self-aware. Once she realizes what her so-called life really is, she escapes and teams up with renegade scientist Evan Lund (Greenberg), who vows to help her escape the city for the no-tech zone of Saint Helena. In the uproar that follows, one detective (Jane) decides to make his move to finally bring down Vice and clean up his city.

Everything about Vice is derivative, from its art direction (let’s stop creating future worlds where everything is either dystopian grunge or shiny Apple store chic) to its dialogue (Willis mumbles every line as though he is embarrassed to be saying it) to its characters (none of whom you care about). The actors all seem tired, unenthusiastic and incapable of making more than one facial expression--in Jane’s case, it is “tough,” while in Childers’ case, it is “confused.” The entire enterprise has the low-rent feel of a basic cable television pilot that isn’t lucky enough to be on AMC; even the gratuitous violence doesn’t live up to expectations. It is everything I fear a bad sequel to Blade Runner would be. Perhaps now, by comparison, the Ridley Scott one won’t be so bad after all.


The Blu-ray release of Vice includes an digital HD Ultraviolet download of the film as well as commentary with director Brian A. Miller, Childers and Greenberg; a behind the scenes featurette; cast and crew interviews; and a trailer gallery.

"Vice" is on sale March 17, 2015 and is rated R. Action, Sci-Fi. Directed by Brian A Miller. Written by Andre Fabrizio, Jeremy Passmore. Starring Ambyr Childers, Bruce Willis, Bryan Greenberg, Thomas Jane.

Lee Jutton • Staff Writer

Lee attended NYU for Film & TV Production, but she now works mostly in PR. Her primary obsessions in life are Doctor Who, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Arsenal F.C. When not writing about things she's watched, she's running or kickboxing in preparation for the inevitable zombie apocalypse. 


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