Julian Michaels has designed the ultimate resort: VICE, where anything goes and the customers can play out their wildest fantasies with artificial inhabitants who look, think and feel like humans. When an artificial becomes self-aware and escapes, she finds herself caught in the crossfire between Julian's mercenaries and a cop who is hell-bent on shutting down Vice, and stopping the violence once and for all.
***Big city sci-fi thriller with Bruce Willis and Thomas Jane about artificial humans*** In the near future, a big city resort called Vice utilizes artificial humans wherein clients can fulfill their debased fantasies, including rape, robbery and murder. An artificial female (Ambyr Childers) escapes and seeks sanctuary at a city church. Bruce Willis plays the entrepreneur of the resort, Thomas Jane a disheveled cop who wants to put him out of business and Bryan Greenberg the man who resides in the church, but he ain’t no pastor. "Vice" (2015) mixes the concept of “Westworld” (1973) and “Futureworld” (1976) with elements of “Blade Runner” (1982), “Groundhog Day” (1993), “Universal Soldier” (1992) and “The Island” (2005). While it only cost $10 million and you can’t expect blockbuster production values, it’s more polished than the average SyFy flick, which usually only cost $3 million or less. Practically the entire movie takes place at nighttime in the big city and I like the reverent tone. Jane is great as the city cop and Willis is his reliable self in a role he could do in his sleep. Childers comes across as a low rent meshing of Malin Akerman and Alicia Silverstone, but in her mid-20s. She’s a’right, but it would’ve been better with someone of the caliber of Scarlett Johannson or Silverstone when she was younger. What turned me off is the eye-rolling way the security guards at the resort couldn’t hit the side of a barn; meanwhile the cop rarely misses. Sure, this is done in a lot in movies, but there’s a way to do it that looks relatively realistic and doesn’t insult the intelligence of the viewer. Not so here. “Vice” thankfully shoots for some depth amidst its action thrills. For instance, there’s the question of robotic self-awareness, which was explored with Data in Star Trek: The Next Generation. Then there’s the debate over media violence & sex, whether in movies or video games. Does it provide an outlet for people to purge their debased desires or does it encourage that behavior in the real world? Lastly, there’s a halfhearted commentary on religious fundamentalism and spirituality. While lackluster in some ways (due to its low-budget), I liked the reverent tone and the profundities amid the thrills, not to mention Jane’s entertaining performance. It’s marginally better than “Westworld” (1973), which, let’s face it, wasn’t exactly a masterpiece. The film runs 1 hour, 36 minutes and was shot in Mobile, Alabama, and Miami, Florida. GRADE: C+/B- (5.5/10)