Here is an irony of current distribution patterns. You could be forgiven for believing Bruce Willis had slumped into retirement. After all, when did you last see the geezer? The truth is he has been making dozens of films the average, semi-conscious biped will never encounter. The Internet Movie Database lists nine titles from 2021 alone. I would archly ask, "When does this man sleep?" but, on the evidence of Killing Field, the answer seems to be: "Whenever the camera is rolling". I'm joking, Bruce.
What are the economics of these projects? James Cullen Bressack's sort-of film-thing looks as if it were knocked up over the weekend by a bunch of high-school students at Dad's holiday home. Almost entirely plotless, it consists mostly of the characters pointing guns and wracking their brains for the next terrible line. Yet they had enough money to pay Willis whatever he asks to sit in two different chairs for a few hours (and he may charge by the chair). Nothing adds up.
Never mind the plot. Willis is some sort of cop. He gets in a shootout with some sort of villain. A portion of the bad guys take Willis prisoner. Others retire to an apparently tropical farm and look forward to a shootout. You know how things go in straight-to-video land.
Embarrassingly for a film that actually features a star of Pulp Fiction, Killing Field is still harbouring an undignified passion for early Tarantino. Two of the crazier hoodlums seem to be modelled explicitly on Woody Harrelson and Juliette Lewis's characters in Natural Born Killers (and that was exhausting enough first time round). There are numerous stand-offs. A villain in black contemplates torturing a man bound to a chair.
The trussed man is, of course, Willis. Rarely has a star engaged so little with the film playing around him. For his opening scenes he sits between two actors – one playing English, the other playing redneck – as they work through the shoddiest sub-Tarantino bickering we have heard this century. It’s something about the Queen (Elizabeth II) being better or worse than the King (Elvis). Oh, those rednecks. Oh, those Limeys.
For the second half Willis sits on a chair within the house and very occasionally allows a second actor into the frame lest we think his entire part was rendered via a Zoom call.
Now, there’s an idea.
Video on demand from January 17th