Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
Vice: It’s a Nice Place to Visit, but You Wouldn’t Want to Live There
Michael Crichton gave humanity too much credit in Westworld. Instead of using cutting edge android technology to
facilitate adventures in the Old West and ancient Rome, Julian Michaels has
built a Vegas-style resort, where rich pervs can commit sex crimes with impunity.
However, when one android-resident escapes into the real world, her programmers
will pull out all the stops to recapture her in Brian A. Miller’s Vice (trailer here), which opens this
Friday in New York.
Kenny on South Park, pretty much
every night Kelly and her friend Melissa are killed by a guest. There memories
are wiped and their bodies are repaired, so they can be reactivated a few days
later. This time, Michaels expedites the process, to cater to a big hedge fund
party. Seriously, someone at his level should not be micromanaging this sort of
day-to-day business. Regardless, they put a rush on Kelly’s maintenance,
leaving behind memories that understandably alarm her. Not inclined to go back
for more such treatment, she escapes from the resort-compound.
Michaels wants her back ASAP, but he does not want the cops involved, particularly
not his nemesis, Roy Tedeschi. The world weary detective blames Vice for
stirring up bad impulses that then spill over onto his streets. Despite the
risk to his career, he has made it his business to antagonize Michaels. He and
Kelly really ought to get together, as you know they must eventually.
is an awful lot of stupid decisions and unnecessary villainy coming from Michaels
and his associates. Pedantically speaking, there really ought to be
multiply-redundant safeguards in place to avoid a situation like this—embarrassing,
but probably not illegal. Needless to say, Vice
is a pale shadow compared to Crichton’s Westworld
and it suffers from the lack of a heavy comparable to Yul Brynner’s gunslinger.
Still, it delivers a reasonable mix of trashy entertainment through its
credible near future world-building and voyeurism dressed up as moral righteousness.
a mid-January release, it is probably safe to say Vice is not destined to be a major awards player, but at least none
of the primary cast-members embarrass themselves. Ambyr Childers is not half
bad portraying Kelly’s slow process of self-assertion. Likewise, Thomas Jane is
sufficiently hardnosed as Tedeschi and Bruce Willis chews on a fair amount of
scenery as Michaels. Charlotte Kirk also makes the most of her limited screen
time as the perennially ill-fated Melissa. Frankly, both Childers and Jane
easily exceed expectations. It is just too bad Andre Fabrizio & Jeremy
Passmore’s script is so derivative and uninspired.
is the sort of film you want to rewrite as you watch it. The whole concept
of the Vice resort ought to be a launching pad for some clever social commentary,
but like its creepy clientele, it just brings out the worst in its
screenwriters. Still, everyone whose face is on the poster gives it a fair try.
It is diverting enough if you enjoy B-movies, but anyone primarily intrigued by
the premise should catch up with the Crichton film instead. For those looking
for some slightly lurid, light-on-the-technical-stuff science fiction, Vice opens this Friday (1/16) in New
York, at the Cinema Village.
Labels: Bruce Willis, Sci-Fi films