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Out of Death
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by Peter Sobczynski

"The Willis In The Woods (Occasionally)"
1 stars

At this point, it seems that every few weeks brings along yet another cheaply crapfest in which Bruce Willis inexplicably squanders what remains of his still-considerable star power as he tuns up for a few lazily performed scenes in exchange for what I can only presume to be a substantial percentage of the film’s budget. With his latest effort (if that is the word), “Out of Death,” it appears that he has finally hit the career nadir that he has been heading towards—an astonishingly lethargic and empty-headed action-thriller (if those are the words) in which he not only shot his entire role in a single day (the whole production evidently took only nine days) but, based on the on-screen evidence, apparently managed to squeeze in a brief round of embalming that morning before arriving on the set.

He plays Jack, a retired big city cop who has moved out to a remote cabin in the woods in the wake of his wife’s death a couple of weeks earlier. Meanwhile, in another part of the woods, Shannon (Jaime King) is on a hike of deep personal importance when she happens to witness and photograph corrupt local cop Billie (Lala Kent) meeting with and then murdering a drug dealer. After accidentally making her presence known, Shannon takes off into the woods with Billie, fellow corrupt cop Tom (Tyler Jon Olson) and Tom’s super-corrupt brother, the politically ambitious Sheriff (Michael Sirow), in hot pursuit, eventually crossing paths with Jack, who pulls himself out of his funk to help her out of her jam and stop the bad guys.

In theory, this description of “Out of Death” may make it sound like any number of mediocre would-be thrillers but it is in the execution where the film goes spectacularly wrong. The screenplay by first-time scribe Bill Lawrence is simply lazy—the characters are too insubstantial to be deemed paper-thin and the only way he can contrive to keep the story moving along is by having the handful of characters constantly stumbling into each other’s paths despite the ostensible vastness of the forest setting. Even an expert filmmaker would have trouble making much out of the material here but debuting director Mike Burns only manages to accentuate all of its flaws with endless scenes of people wandering around the woods, poorly staged bursts of action, deeply unconvincing CGI effects and one of the most dreadfully annoying musical scores I can recall hearing in a film. (The last is a bit odd considering that before directing this film, Burns served as the musical supervisor for a number of recent Willis vehicles.)

For all of its flaws, the worst thing about “Out of Death”—a film in which everything, including the title, is pretty much incompetent—is the absolute contempt that it seems to have towards its audience. With most movies, even the bad ones, you get the sense that the people making them are at least making an attempt to create something entertaining, even if they don’t quite manage to accomplish that. With this film, there is never the sense that anyone involved—especially Willis, who barely seems awake during his brief appearances—is even trying to make something entertaining and you can practically feel them sneering at anyone dumb enough to fork over a few bucks and 90 minutes in order to watch it.

The only good thing to say about “Out of Death” is that at this point, Bruce Willis would have to try very hard to make another film that was lazier, dumber and more contemptuous of its viewers than this one and, as a viewing of this one will prove, he now appears to be constitutionally incapable of trying very hard at anything anymore.

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originally posted: 07/16/21 06:13:36
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Directed by
  Mike Burns

Written by
  Bill Lawrence

  Jaime King
  Bruce Willis
  Lala Kent
  Kelly Greyson
  Mike Burns
  Tyler Jon Olson

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