By: John M Jerva
I’m an action fan and most importantly an 80’s action fan so with that it must be said that I was old enough when Bruce Willis oozed coolness and bravado in his movies. From the Die Hard films to The Last Boyscout, Willis was the epitome of action cinema gravitas with his every man demeanor and sly wit.
Mr. Willis is getting older but as a fan I’m still hoping that John McClane still has one great action extravaganza left in him. Is his newest action-sci/fi pic Apex the long awaited return to form for the once Hollywood A lister? In a simple word, or maybe two,…hell no.
Apex continues the current trend of Willis showing up only sparingly in a movie and when he does, it’s evident that his best days are primarily behind him. Upon seeing the trailer for this one, I did get my hopes up a little as it looked like Willis was channeling a little bit of that old McClane magic. I mean his “I’m bacon and eggs on a Sunday morning” line just reeked of 80’s action and was definitely something John would say in a Die Hard entry.
Sadly the best parts of this one are in the trailer and if you’ve seen the promo then there’s no need to view this one in full. It’s OK though, I took the bullet for you on this one and watched it so you wouldn’t have to.
In Apex, Willis stars, or co-stars, as a convict named Malone who is tapped to participate in a deadly hunt where he is the prey and is hunted by six elite hunters who enjoy killing people for sport. Yes, it’s the Most Dangerous Game plot line that has been done to death in countless other action movies and many of those have done it way better.
Of course, Malone isn’t your ordinary prey as he has some serious skills and he turns the tables on his would be assailants as they hunt him on a private island owned by a huge corporation that caters to the wealthy who are bored and looking for the ultimate rush.
One of the bright spots of Apex is that it stars veteran character actor Neal McDonough who is solid in anything that he does. Whether it’s playing the good guy or the villain, McDonough elevates any film with his sure fire gravitas. Here he plays Rainsford, who is primarily the leader of the hunters who loves to take vacations from his everyday boring life as a surgeon and hunt down human beings for fun. We all have to have our happy place don’t we?
The initial setting for Apex started off promising as Willis barked dialogue like he did back in the day but unfortunately through most of the film, he’s seen sporadically traipsing through the woods as the hunters hunt each other instead of him. Once again, Bruce is hardly on camera as we see the hunters more and all they do is argue with each other before trying to off one another.
There isn’t much in terms of action as a majority of the movie is spent with Malone watching as the hunters fight each other and there’s even a scene ripped right out of Predator where they dispense endless amounts of ammo into the jungle just like Schwarzenegger and company did in that classic. Spoiler alert…Arnie did it better. When you find yourself looking at the time or browsing on your phone, then you know it’s not a good sign.
The finale looked like it might see Willis kicking some old school ass as Rainsford calls in reinforcements to handle Malone but sadly all the killing is done with Willis not even on camera. You see bad guys go down for the count but Willis or his stunt double is nowhere to be seen.
It all leads up to the climatic showdown between Malone and Rainsford which once again fails to deliver. The two stars face off and yell at each other while Rainsford literally spurts out ridiculous lines that he’s the ultimate warrior and then we see the two fire their weapons right at each other. We actually see a bullet hit a grenade in slow motion. Now that may sound cool but here it comes off as bad CGI and lame. Oh what could have been.
Overall, Apex is more of what we’ve been getting from Willis and his endless releases of DTV action. It starts off well enough but its a boring mess of a movie that felt too long even at 90 minutes.
I’m still holding out hope that Willis will deliver one more action movie worthy of the 80’s and as I write this, I just watched his trailer for Fortress which looks decent enough once again. I have to ask myself though, is that movie like Apex and the best Willis moments are in the tease? I know I’m asking for punishment but I’ll be watching once again. Only time will tell but with Apex, aside from a few McClane like moments and Neil McDonough, this one is another missed opportunity of immense proportions.