Bruce. (Not talkin’ about the shark.)
|Despite popular belief,|
Bruce the shark was not name after Bruce Willis!
Good guess. Yeah, Kevin Pollack. That’s right. His portrayal of Lazlo Gogolak in that glowing chunk of bio-nuclear waist is hands down the worst on-screen acting job seen in all of this decade thus far, and it’s going to take someone rather remarkable to knock him from that top spot. Not even Cary Elwes or Leigh Whannell in Saw can set and match this cinematic tragedy. It’s hard to describe the inherent desolation I felt watching Pollock wing and pitch his way through the non-existent script that TWTY scribes Mitchell Kapner and George Gallo claimed to have written. I could sit here and describe various painful tortures, like having my testicles wrung through a wet rag made of razor wire or having my head slowly stepped on by a pregnant elephant, but it would be a moot generalization. Because nothing even comes close to enduring the whining characterization Pollock so haltingly raped my precious metroplex with. Seriously. There should be a movie jail. And this mother f*cker should be in it. He’s not funny. And he’s to squat to play serious actor. Lazlo Gogolak killed Todd Hockney and any desire to ever sift through The Usual Suspects ever again.
But no. Instead, Bruce, the honest, caring individual he is, decided to recast Pollock in his new “action-thriller” austerely entitled Hostage. F*cker. F*cking asshole. I wanted to like this new flick. Honestly, I did. I went in with high hopes. A little birdie whispered an encroached enthusiasm for the project in my ear before hand. I was promised a bloody-good time. A rip and jugular pummel that would arouse and raise my testosterone level. I clutched the corners of my seat, sitting in that private screening room. Goddamn it, I was excited. I wanted to see Bruce’s return to form. He’s the everyman action star, and I never pass-up a chance to live vicariously through him…
Then, bam! That name flies out of leftfield and drives it’s seven-fingered knuckle right into my tender cheek. “KEVIN POLLOCK.” No. No. No. The general good spirits that the inventive opening credit sequence was driving into my spine was suddenly hushed and quieted with a single finger to the lips. How dare they throw this bastard inside my erstwhile endeavor? I haven’t been to the theater once this New Year. Not at all.
The K word. The P word. Those two nouns, lit up in white on-screen, brought about the army of chiggers that lives inside my stomach. They urged and pushed on my kidneys, trying to get me to leave. Trust this mo-fo, I wanted to abide by their wishes. But I was being watched. By REPs for Miramax. This really wasn’t an entertainment venue. I was sitting there to do a job. And, by-God, I decided I would do that job. I’ve done a lot of sh*t work in my day. This one offshoot venue wasn’t going to ruin my ethics. No siree.
|Being shot by a Gogolak is not half|
as painful as watching his movie.
Hostage. Could they have come up with a more generic sounding name? It reads like a movie-of-the-week. Something playing in the background of a more steadfast action film. It’s about as colorful as a black & white labeled can that simply reads: BEER. Standing in Vons, am I going to opt for that or the similarly priced PBR, or Miller High Life? Of course, I’m going to go for the other two. At least they have some character. Some semblance of a personality. Granted, BEER might taste better than the Pabst or the High Life, but it’s not really selling me on its image. Hostage has far too much going on within its self-contained narrative to be considered a generic action picture. It fails on a lot of levels, sure. But it works at times, and when it does, it excels at besting the bastardized works that are posthumously labeled “Direct-to-Video.” Hostage deserves a better name. As of now, IMDB lists 12 other films with the exact same title in just the past five years. Its indistinguishable.
|Help me help myself.|
Some might consider the last few years a low point for Bruce. Alas, his entire career has been so up and down, he’s never really had to succumb to a callback. Sometimes he hits the ball, sometimes he doesn’t. He’s batting fifty-fifty at an even flow that is unmatched by any other working actor to date. He’s never fully slid into has-been territory. Not like his contemporaries have. After Moonlighting, entire audiences booed his “coming soon” trailer for Die Hard. A few months later, they were cheering the film. He rode high into the night until back-to-back misfires Bonfire of the Vanities and Hudson Hawk brought his dust cloud down and vaporized the man’s overall star quality. He didn’t linger long on the outskirts of town. He quietly tossed a few hits into the mix with The Last Boy Scout and Death Becomes Her. Then he lost his initial footing with a handful of wrought gut pictures. Pulp Fiction swept in and drove him right back to the top of the A list alongside the nearly deceased John Travolta. This rejuvenation propelled him skyward with one hit after another, culminating in the Box Office stunner The Sixth Sense. Then, with the exception of his other M. Night Shyamalan directed venture Unbreakable; Willis’ career took a nosedive that he’s still currently trying to recover from.
|The 12th film in 5 years|
to be entitled Hostage.
It must be noted. This new project is coming at precisely the right time. It reflects a current state of affairs for Willis in a metaphorical backdrop of genuine coincidence. The theme is very similar to the one we saw in Jim Carrey’s Bruce Almighty. In that Tom Shadyac directed comedy, Carrey’s Bruce Nolan was a goofy News Journalist known for humorous puff-pieces about Niagara Falls and Giant Cookies. Nolan wanted to be taken seriously, and was furious that neither his supervisors nor his audience would accept him as a legitimate anchorman. Through a series of fortunate events which see Nolan stepping into the shoes of God himself, the character eventually realizes that his home is in doing lighthearted live shots and that he should never stray to far from that. It was a linear profile of Carrey’s own professional dilemma. For years he’s tried to get people to take him seriously in dramatic fare. Yet, it’s the lighthearted comedies that people actually want to see him in. And it’s here, in this lighthearted comedy, that Jim Carrey finally accepted and realized that. I was one of the few people that actually noticed how symbolically biographical the film Bruce Almighty actually was for Jim Carrey.
|Despite a few bombs, Bruce Willis' career is truly unbreakable.|
Neither Willis, nor his character, want to continue thriving in this environment. It’s a downhill slope that’s bound to end in both their deaths. Talley’s literally and Bruce’s metaphorically. More bad action movies mean more box office bombs, which leads to an unemployment check. So, Jeff Talley moves to a small, quiet town where not much happens. Just as Bruce tried to move into the realm of the quieter Independent film project and occasional lighthearted comedy. But life in this peaceful town isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Before too long, both Bruce and his on-screen character, are pulled back into Die Hard territory.
And that’s no joke. The film literally turns into an adventure fit for John McClane. I wouldn’t have blinked twice had this been entitled Die Hard 4.0. I wouldn’t have even been that disappointed. There’s a kidnapping plot, a mob plot, and a trapped savior that will help Willis save the day. In Die Hard, it was Willis that was holed-up in that giant office building with the terrorists. He had to rely on Family Matters’ Reginald Veljohnson for support and help. In Hostage, the roles are reversed. This time, it’s a little kid that's trapped inside a 10 million dollar mansion running through the air ducts, and popping out of vents to distract and overtake his kidnappers while Bruce runs around outside, talking to him on a cell phone. Actually, it reminds me of Rocky V. The older hero must step back and use his intellect in helping the younger buck resolve the day’s problem.
|The Willis sisters and family.|
Eventually, though, you’re tired of chewing and pissed at the stain that’s permanently soaked through your crotch area. Simply put, there’s just far too much stuff going on in this movie. And at times, it becomes overwhelmingly confusing, even though the throughline is as simplistic as can be.
Aside from Pollock, the most distracting thing on-screen is the presence of Bruce’s own real life daughter, Rumor Willis, playing Jeff Talley’s daughter Amanda. I’m not sure why this bugged me so much. The girl is a fine actor (or rather, actress). I think it’s the fact that I know they’re actually related. It pulled me out of the story. It was distracting. All I could think about, every time she made an appearance, were those pictures in US WEEKLY, where Ashton Kutcher is wearing that skirt and taking the kid out for ice cream. The thin line between Reality, Celebrity, and enjoyable Entertainment is blurred beyond recognition. How can I take this Hostage Negotiator seriously when Bruce’s daughter is weeping into his shoulder pads? I can’t. On the other hand, Willis’ other daughter was extremely convincing in her small role as Buttercup Scout in The Whole Ten Yards. Maybe that’s because I didn’t know who she was before watching it. Either way, actors, please, keep your daughters out of my action movies. Put her in a teen comedy, or something. I’d watch Rumor in one of those.
|Sin City is Willis' last hope...|
I’ll also continue to watch Bruce Willis. I don’t mind admitting a vested interest in everything he does. Hostage peeked my curiosity. I’m not entirely sure where it came from. It just suddenly sprang-up from nowhere. There was no pressing need to see it. I surely wasn’t anticipating its arrival, so I can’t exactly say I’m disappointed in the thing. Or Bruce, for that matter. It seems to me that the best of intentions went into making this formidable actioneer. Too bad that it lost its way with a thick, fat narrative fit for Gardulla the Hutt.
On a weird note, Hostage does contain a very silted, weird message about DVDs, original theatrical fare, and their hackneyed remakes. Maybe the film is trying to tell us something. Like, “We know this is a rip-off of Die Hard. And that it’s the one that you want. But to get out of the house in one piece, without getting burned to a crisp, you’re going to have to recognize this version, too.”
It’s something like that. I’m sure.
Hostage, I don’t hate you. I don’t like you very much, but I don’t hate you. Bruce…I love you. That’s a given. Kevin Pollock? You, on the other hand, my little leprechaun; I want to sever my own nutsack every time I look at your awful face.
So get out of mine and quite ruining my movies. Bitch. The rest of you go see Hostage. Or don’t. No one gives a f*ck. Except for Dan Diakiw. He thinks I should buy some hookers. I think he should sh*t the f*ck up. He’s a faggot.
Just like Mr. Pollock. But we all knew that.