Review by Sean Boelman
In recent years, Bruce Willis’s roles have gone from being that of a cool action hero in B-movies to that of the underutilized and curmudgeonly supporting player. This has arguably never been more true than it is in Matt Eskandari’s Hard Kill, a passable but bland flick composed of a series of firefights and not much else.
The film follows a mercenary and his team as they are hired by the billionaire CEO of a tech company to rescue his daughter from a terrorist who hopes to exploit his work. Like so many low-rent action flicks, the plot here is beyond convoluted and not much of it makes any sense, but movies like this aren’t really about the story.
However, the movie hardly delivers on that front either. The least one expects from a movie like this are some fight scenes that have kinetic cinematography and rapid editing to drum up some excitement. Here, it just feels as if the filmmakers just pointed a camera at some people shooting guns at each other.
In fact, the film as a whole suffers from being outright dull. It’s a very straightforward damsel-in-distress story, which is a dated narrative to begin with, and the movie’s attempts to make sure that it isn’t technologically irrelevant in a year’s time result in everything feeling a whole lot more generic too.
And for a film that takes place almost entirely in one location, there is no sense of spatial geography to be found. But it isn’t that Eskandari is going for an eerily labyrinthian type of feel — instead, it feels like pure laziness that seemingly no thought or attention was put into giving the world any sense of reality.
The character development of the movie is all but nonexistent. There are some attempts to build a dynamic between the protagonist and his team, and between the protagonist and Willis’s overseer figure, but these are too shallow and feel too much like an afterthought to leave any sort of impression.
Perhaps more frustrating, though, is that the entire cast seems to be phoning it in. In the lead role, Jesse Metcalfe is off-puttingly stoic, likely in an attempt to make himself seem like a tough guy, but really just coming across as awkwardly gruff. And as is usual for Willis, his lack of passion seems to scream a desire to be put out of his misery.
Hard Kill isn’t unwatchable, but it also isn’t particularly entertaining. It’s a film that seems designed to meet the lowest possible standards of competency, and while it achieves those modest goals, it fails to justify its existence in a sea of more entertaining straight-to-VOD popcorn fare.
Hard Kill is now available on VOD.