HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: Term Life
HTS Overall Score:65
Vince Vaughn is not a name that one usually associates with action movies. In fact I don’t think that he’s EVER played in an action film, and the only role that he has done that even comes close is his role in “The Cell” with Jennifer Lopez. I have to admit that I was really drawn to “Term Life” out of morbid curiosity. To see just how Vaughn would fair in that type of characterization. The trailer didn’t exactly look that good, and while Hailee Steinfeld is an up and coming actress, her last few movies have been so wince worthy as to be hesitant blind watching any of her non blockbuster films. Unfortunately “Term Life” ended up being just as bad as I had feared. With a clichéd plot and lackluster acting by all involved, it just ended up being BORING more than anything. Even the inclusion of the ever entertaining Bill Paxton couldn’t save the short thriller from death by lack of entertainment.
Nick Barrow (Vince Vaughn) makes his living by setting up criminals with entry and exit plans for their robberies. A planner of sorts, he goes in and scopes the place out, then lets the clients know the best way to get in and out of the situation unscathed. He’s made a rather lucrative business out of this particular skill set, but now he’s in a bit of a pickle. His latest client was murdered by unknown assailants right after they pulled off the job, and his client’s father, Victor Fuentes (Jordi Molla) is NOT happy with Nick. Dead certain that Nick has sold the job to another person who murdered his son, Victor is willing to do ANYTHING to get to the thief, including go after his 16 year old (and very much estranged) daughter Cate (Hailee Steinfeld). Grabbing his first escape opportunity, Nick makes a bolt for the girl and drags her along with him while the thief figures out a way to keep both himself and his daughter safe.
Cate isn’t exactly very enamored with her father. Nick kind of dropped out of her life 12 years ago when his ex-wife made it VERY clear that it was better if he kept away from them due to his line of work. Now the two have to work together to try and stay alive as not only is Victor Fuentes hot on their tail, but the dirty cops who murdered Victor’s son and set Nick up kind of want to make sure that Nick doesn’t put two and two together and expose their nasty little secrets.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=73985[/img]Despite the fun little oddity of having Vince Vaughn playing an action type role, “Term Life” doesn’t really have much to offer. The plot is definitely clichéd and well worn. We have the set up criminal with an estranged family member, and the only way to make it out alive is to trust each other somehow. Then we have dirty cops, evil mobsters, and a boatload of cash that turns good men greedy and bad men even greedier. Nothing in the story really stands out, which is the film’s biggest sin. It’s not that anything is really that BAD in fact. It’s just a case of everything being so standardized and cookie cutter that the audience dies of boredom before a single bullet is fired. Even the R rating with some fairly brutal kills doesn’t add anything to the film, and I’m a junkie for some violence in my action films.
The cast is pretty decent, but there’s some odd choices here. Vince Vaughn in an action role is VERY strange, and he fairs about as poorly as I expected him to be. He’s a bit out of shape and the action sequences aren’t that believable when a lightly chubby comedian is huffing and puffing around with a bizarre haircut (just look at the front picture. I swore Vaughn had on a toupee, but it’s his actual hair. Just turned into a straight mop instead of his normally tight jerry curls). Hailee Steinfeld has the potential to be really good, but she’s not given a lot to work with as a pouty teenage girl, and thus we don’t get to see much out of her. Bill Paxton is serviceable as the creepy Detective Keenan, and Jordi Molla is always entertaining as the heavily accented villain, but everyone else just fades into the background. Including a strangely cast Mike Epps as one of the other dirty cops. The whole thing just feels very strange from beginning to end. Weird casting choices, an odd plot for a graphic novel inspired film, and the feeling that this one never saw the light of a theatrical release.
Rated R for violence, and language including a sexual reference
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=73993[/img]“Term Life” was shot digitally using the Red Epic Dragon and Arri Alexa digital camera systems, and the 2.39:1 AVC encode looks about what one would expect for the type of film that it is. The image is appropriately detailed, with nice facial structures and good definition on wide angle shots. The colors appear to be mildly desaturated with a sort of boosted contrast that sometimes creates a mildly soft looking image and washed out blacks at times. For the most part the blacks are deep and inky, but the afore mentioned contrast boosting shows a few washed out sequences here and there.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=74001[/img]The singular 5.1 DTS-HD MA track manages to be a pleasing experience, with solid front soundstage and decent use of the back speakers. Dialog is never in question, with crisp vocals and a nice balance with the rest of the track. Surrounds get a little bit of a workout with the action sequences, and there’s a few car chases that really kick up the LFE, but a lot of the time the film is rather dialog intensive and doesn’t exactly call on the other speaker a whole lot. The low budget nature of the flick also means that gunshots aren’t overly dynamic or the explosions to sound like an earthquake. However, the 5.1 encode is simplistic and well done, leaving very little flaws beside the fact that it wasn’t a major blockbuster.
• A Family Affair: Making "Term Life"
I was strangely rooting for “Term Life” to be a fun flick, and really was looking for the good in the film. Especially since I adore Bill Paxton and wanted so badly for Vince Vaughn to pull this type of role off. Sadly there really is not much to root for, and the film doesn’t even have the decency to be truly awful so I can rip it a new one. Instead it just manages to be glide along in about as generic of a fashion as can be, never instilling a sense of enjoyment or revulsion, but rather boring the audience to death. Audio and video seem to be pretty solid for the type of low budget film, and the extras mimic that by being nearly nonexistent. My one and only reaction to the whole experience is, “meh”.
Starring: Hailee Steinfeld, Vince Vaughn, Bill Paxton
Directed by: Peter Billingsley
Written by: Andy Lieberman, Nick Thornborrow
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1
Runtime: 93 Minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: July 5th, 2016
Buy Term Life On Blu-ray at Amazon
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