One of the many signs of our impending and collective doom is the bizarre state of Bruce Willis’ career.
The once beloved New Jersey native has gone from Everyman movie star known for chatting with fans in message boards to grump whose output has become so lazy he inspired his very own category at the Razzies.
The latest slapped-together burger off the Willis factory line is “A Day to Die,” available now on VOD. It may only be March, but this is Willis’ third film to be released this year, following “American Siege” and “Gasoline Alley,” two mind-boggling additions to a filmography that includes “Die Hard” and “Pulp Fiction.”
“A Day to Die” follows Connor (Kevin Dillon), a police officer who needs to get the old crew back together after his pregnant wife is kidnapped, and he needs to pay a ransom to pay off a debt. There is also an opening tragedy that has some vague connection to the rest of the story, and Willis appears as a corrupt detective or sheriff or mayor or something … it doesn’t really matter.
Director Wes Miller never trusts his story in any way, so before we can ever get attached to one trajectory, he jerks our attention to a new conflict that is suddenly supposed to take our full attention.
The sad part of “A Day to Die” is that Dillon and performers like Frank Grillo are trying to resemble human emotion through painfully awkward scenes where things are said and decisions are made that have no relation to any sense of reality, fantastical or otherwise.
As for Willis, what’s there to say at this point?
This “performance,” if you can call it that, marks yet another low point for the actor. He does the absolute minimum required of him both verbally and physically in every scene he’s in. That leads to a strange, headache-inducing vagueness where you struggle to connect him to the main plot.
Oh, and there are also entire scenes where it’s clearly Willis’ lips moving, but not Willis speaking. It’s not the first time one of these VOD efforts has turned to another actor to help Willis carry the weight these trying performances put on him. “A Day to Die” boasts long stretches like this, noticeable to even casual viewers.
On “Victory the Podcast,” Dillon has spoken excitedly about his unexpected, but well-deserved career comeback. Unfortunately, some of those projects have been from this factory line of VOD content strung together with photoshopped posters and the dying souls of once-great artists.
From the way Dillon describes the shoots, they are done in a matter of days and require heavy improvisation to even make the quick pace work. The “Entourage” star has been excited about the upcoming films and he should be, as he’s got his name next to stars like Willis and Mel Gibson.
It’s just sad that the string of movies teaming Dillon with these heavy weights starts off with “A Day to Die” featuring the artist formerly known as Bruce Willis.