Out Of Death, 2021.
Directed by Mike Burns.
Starring: Jaime King, Bruce Willis, Lala Kent, Kelly Greyson, Megan Leonard and Michael Sirow.
While out hiking to scatter her father’s ashes, Shannon Mathers (King) stumbles across a drug deal gone wrong between a corrupt police officer and a junkie. As the only witness, Shannon is forced to go on the run in the wilderness. Her luck changes when she meets retired cop Jack Harris (Willis) on vacation, and the two team up to stay one step ahead of the corrupt cops hot on their trail…
A small scale action-thriller set in the woodlands of middle-America with an awfully distracting bleak, near-Sepia haze across the lens, this is an independent offering that is nothing new, nothing exciting or nothing memorable to say the least. The film would fade into obscurity were it not for the “headline” star of Bruce Willis who is sadly making a name for himself as a direct-to-DVD dud over recent years. With all of his scenes shot in one day across the nine day shooting period after the US COVID-19 lockdown, Bruce fails to give anything in his performance that could be worth a watch, even for his hardcore fans.
Willis lacks any passion or enthusiasm in the role, the script or the character. To be truthful, his creaky old character Jack Harris could be any of his recent characters. Willis pops up, growls his words, shoots his pistol and jogs around in and out of scenes. None of his dialogue conjures up the potentially intended humour, heart or emotion. The fact he works with such lazy writing doesn’t do him any justice, even when his total screentime clocks in at around 10 minutes of an 85min film.
His star turn in so many low-budget, low-thrill films is a real shame for Willis as a dependable action hero in his golden years, now just cashing in easy cheques for minimal screen time to lend his name to low-budget independent films, but not for the better.
Co-star Jaime King leads the show, and at least gives her best as an innocent bystander caught in the cross-fire of bent cops, played with drama school menace and dramatic acting by Lala Kent, Mike Burns and Michael Sirow. It’s a cat and mouse chase by King and Willis himself, Willis’ bald body double and Willis’ over-dubbing of lines to get away from cops who can’t shoot well or act with true evil intent, but still pose a threat for some reason.
The action is not exciting or intense, the soundtrack is text-book redneck / rock / empathic when needed and there is no depth to a story or engaging characters to make even an 80 minute run-time bearable. Characters don’t develop and action doesn’t intensify – it all just keeps going and going, back and forth between those involved in a boring location with a boring amount of talking.
Director Mike Burns is clearly having fun out in the country making a good cop / bad cop film with a host of unknowns (and Willis), bad CGI blood, shooting guns, rolling down slopes and channelling Quentin Tarantino with the use of chapters, but there’s not enough here to warrant a feature film’s worth of action for audiences to invest in.
As for the title, you’ll also never know what “Out Of Death” means in relation to what you’ve just seen.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ / Movie: ★