At this point in time, nobody is pulling for a Bruce Wills comeback like Movies In Focus. LA Vengeance (aka Once Upon A Time In Venice) is the first movie he’s headlined since 2013’s Red 2 (although he has taken ‘supporting roles’ in an astonishing 14 movies) – but sadly it’s a serious misfire, a movie that wastes a great cast and the potential for a lot of humour. The blame lies with Mark Cullen, the film’s director and co-writer (alongside his brother, Robb). Cullen drops the ball on a tonal level and he manages to throw scenes together which always feel like a rehearsal rather than the final product.
Willis is Steve Ford, a Private Detective who gets mixed up with drug dealers, property developers and all sorts of weirdos when his dog gets kidnapped. It’s a comedy of errors, with almost zero comedy and the emphasis on the errors. Cullen wants his film to be like Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, but it doesn’t have the wit or the ingenuity.
John Goodman, Jason Momoa, Famke Janssen and Adam Goldberg all feature in the supporting cast, but none of them are served well by the material. In recent times Wills has been accused of sleepwalking through a lot of roles, he does try here, but sadly it’s really not worth his time.If you’ve ever wanted to see Bruce Wills skateboard naked through the streets of LA, shove a handgun up his butt or dress in drag – then this is the movie for you!
Mark Cullen, a first-time director, fails in most of his creative decisions, from the music choices to the casting of Thomas Middleditch as Willis’ incredibly annoying sidekick (his narration is blood-boiling). LA Vengeance plays like a collection of ‘what if’ scenarios lifted from a bunch of napkins that the Cullens collected for detective movie ideas. A lot of these ideas don’t belong together and the motivation for many of the characters changes from scene to scene, without any explanation.
LA Vengeance is a creative mess and a waste of talent. A lot of the elements are there for a good movie, but sadly the whole thing is poorly executed and shoddily directed. Bruce Willis tries his best but he deserves much better material than this. This is a movie for die-hard Willis fans only.
LA Vengeance comes with a trailer and a brief ‘making of’ where a lot of the cast lie about how funny the script is.