(US/UK - 2018)
Directed by Brian A. Miller. Written by Bryce Hammons. Cast: Frank Grillo, Bruce Willis, Olivia Culpo, Johnathon Schaech, Natali Yura, Wass Stevens, Colin Egglesfield, Uncle Murda, Christopher Rob Bowen, Natalia Sophie Butler, Tyler Olson, Geoff Reeves, Shea Buckner, Ken Strunk. (R, 89 mins)
On Comedy Central's recent roast of former actor Bruce Willis, Edward Norton was on the dais and wondered if he could get away with the stuff Willis does: "Could I just leave the set of a movie after my close-ups are done and have my co-stars act opposite a C-stand with a red 'X' taped to it while a script girl reads my dialogue to them?" Perhaps Norton has seen at least a few entries in Lionsgate's landmark "Bruce Willis Phones In His Performance From His Hotel Room" series, the latest installment being REPRISAL. Reuniting Willis--at least for a day, maybe two--with his THE PRINCE and VICE director Brian A. Miller, REPRISAL also makes frequent use of the big-eared Willis double who pretty much handled his work for him in the climactic shootout of FIRST KILL. In a performance that sets new standards for doing the bare minimum, Willis again demonstrates the kind of coasting entitlement that comes when you no longer feel the need to hide your utter contempt for your co-stars, your craft, and your audience. Upon a cursory glance, he seems to be in a good amount of REPRISAL, but not when you look closer. His first appearance comes five minutes in and perfectly encapsulates this bizarre phase of Willis' career: his character is seen working out in his driveway and his neighbor jokingly calls him "old man." But it's not Willis. We see Willis' Fake Shemp with the big ears and his back to the camera, then Miller cuts to a close-up where Willis looks frazzled and confused, but the shots don't really match. He's standing in front of windows that aren't there in the long shot. It looks like Miller has been forced to sub in outtakes from another scene. Then there's a cut to the big-eared double, his back to the camera, saying "I'll take you anytime, punk!" in what is clearly the voice of someone trying--and failing--to sound like Bruce Willis. This double shows up at a few more times throughout the movie, usually when Willis' character is required to be outdoors. Were it not for this man's heroic actions in the line of duty, doing whatever was needed to make the DIE HARD icon's performance complete, the makers of REPRISAL might've been forced to resort to drastic measures, like seeing if John Cusack was available.