Acts of Violence (2018)

Remember when the involvement of Bruce Willis in a movie was something about which one could get excited? Nowadays, it typically means the film is going straight-to-VOD and will be a bland action movie that you have no reason to watch. Such is the case with Acts of Violence, which promotes Willis as its star even though he’s only in a handful of scenes, only one of which contains anything remotely resembling action.

No, Willis isn’t the lead, and spends more scenes behind a police desk offering vague promises or issuing irrelevant threats. The leads are three men, Deklan, Brandon, and Roman (Cole Hauser, Shawn Ashmore, and Ashton Holmes), one of whom is going to marry Mia (Melissa Bolona). She gets abducted by human traffickers/drug dealers, and when the police can’t/won’t do anything, the brothers—two of whom were in the military—take it into their own hands. There … is almost nothing more to the movie than this, and it’s a wonder how it manages to almost run for 90 minutes. It has enough content for a 15-minute short, if that.

The action isn’t any good, by the way, in case you were hoping that would be the film’s saving grace. It’s mostly just guys shooting at other guys, shot and edited with indifference. You’ve seen almost every sequence in this movie before in better movies, which makes me wonder why anyone would spend money on this. To see Bruce Willis get a paycheck role in a direct-to-VOD movie? Because that’s the only draw, and it makes sense why he is being advertised as the star.

There are signs of a potentially better movie. One of the brothers—you don’t care which one, and neither does the movie after a while—is shown early on as suffering mental illness from his time with the military. He can’t sleep and he has bouts of anger; he sees a psychiatrist who isn’t helping. But after that scene, which happens very early on? You’ve got almost nothing that goes down that road—except that cathartic violence is its best treatment. The same is true of a drug, carfentanyl, which is similar to fentanyl, something that’s currently a big issue in the real world. It’s featured in this film, but as a throwaway for the police, not as anything that really matters.

There isn’t anything to Acts of Violence. It’s a basic movie without any ambition.

The movie could have produced some social commentary with both of these situations, as well as human trafficking—beyond, you know, “it’s bad.” The treatment of military veterans and their post-service lives is a problem, as are the overdoses because of fentanyl. But for Acts of Violence, they don’t matter. They’re here because they’re a way to pad the running time and service the plot, not because the movie has anything to say about them. These brainless action movies don’t care.

Acts of Violence comes courtesy of Brett Donowho, whose previous directorial outings are cheap horror movies you’ve probably never heard of. If he has anything to offer beyond minor technical proficiency, it’s not on display here. Acts of Violence doesn’t look half bad, truthfully, but since none of it matters, it’s hard to muster up the energy to care. The screenplay was written by Nicolas Aaron Mezzanatto, who gives him nothing to work with.

There isn’t anything to Acts of Violence. It’s a basic movie without any ambition. It had the potential to be something more, but for one reason or another decided not to take that route. Even if you’re hoping that Bruce Willis will entertain you, he’s barely in the movie and when he is he looks like he’s half asleep. Early on, he sits down and proclaims “I’m tired of this.” We are, too, Bruce. We are, too.

Conclusion: Acts of Violence is another bad direct-to-VOD Bruce Willis movie.

Recommendation: I can’t think of a reason to check out Acts of Violence.

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