Hard Kill, 2020
Directed by Matt Eskandari.
Starring Jesse Metcalfe, Bruce Willis, Natalie Eva Marie, Lala Kent, Texas Battle, Sergio Rizzuto, Swen Temmel, and Tyler Jon Olson.
The work of billionaire tech CEO Donovan Chalmers (Willis) is so valuable that he hires mercenaries to protect it, and a terrorist group kidnaps his daughter just to get it.
Far from the commanding movie star that he once was, Bruce Willis seems content to spend his later years moving from one mediocre B-movie to another, and his latest vehicle (his third collaboration with director Matt Eskandari in just two years, following the forgettable Trauma Center and Survive the Night), might be a career-low; a cliché-driven action film that is every bit as creative as its title.
Everything about it feels factory-made, be it the generic dialogue, simple and outdated film techniques, or the story itself, which revolves around a dangerously powerful computer program capable of ending the world, the bad guys who’ll do anything to get it, and the ‘heroes’ who are tricked into protecting it. It’s a basic ‘technology is dangerous’ plot that feels like it was lifted straight out of 2007, coincidentally the same year that saw the release of Die Hard 4.0, another Willis vehicle that was essentially about the same thing.
Hard Kill takes place almost entirely in an abandoned warehouse of sorts, in which we spend the best part of an hour watching people shoots guns and kick each other (after about thirty minutes of tedious but obligatory set-up). Soon enough, the action scenes all blur into one another, devoid of any individuality or imagination, and filmed with genuinely shoddy camerawork.
The script exists simply to serve a purpose, with characters (if they can loosely be referred to as such) delivering every cliché line one could imagine, whether it makes sense in the scene or not (it often doesn’t). In fact, those same characters often make decisions that completely contradict themselves and throw entire set-ups (or, heaven forbid, arcs), out of the window. Their motivations simply don’t fit with what’s happening, least of all because the entire premise expects us to believe that supposedly expert mercenaries would be so easily conned to begin with.
All of this might’ve been easier to ignore if the actors had even a shred of charisma, but their delivery is wooden, awkward and even embarrassing at times. Jesse Metcalfe lacks any personality whatsoever, and Sergio Rizzuto is unable to bring an already laughable and non-threatening villain to life. Wrestling star Natalie Eva Marie is the only one who seems to be earnestly trying, while everyone else seems happy to phone it in, especially Willis, who couldn’t care less about what he’s doing and doesn’t seem too bothered by that. He’s here for his retirement fund; that’s it, and he’s never looked more bored than he does here.
Ultimately, Hard Kill is a tiresome, outdated, hackneyed and predictable action flick that follows one trope after another and isn’t shot with an ounce of creative flair. It’s a film that’ll please no-one, not even those who would normally find such turn-your-brain-off ventures enjoyable. Why? Because, worst of all, it’s just so, so boring.
Bruce Willis looked like he couldn’t wait for it to end. You’ll probably feel the same.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ / Movie: ★