HTS Moderator , Reviewer
HTS Overall Score:70
The world of robotics and artificial intelligence has always sparked some serious debate over the years, one of which is the question “what defines a human as alive”? “Vice” plays with that question a bit and mulls it over in the classic action/sci-fi environment. It’s not overly clever, or well written, but the action is solid and it outclasses many of its other Direct to video counterparts by a decent margin.
What would you think about a world where you could do anything without consequence? Where you could murder, pillage, destroy and not have any repercussions after the fact. Well, in the not so distant future that is reality thanks to “Vice”, a multibillion dollar fantasy land theme park like resort where the residents of said resort are pre-programmed humanoid robots that you can do anything with or to without the sticky legal issues that come with acting out your most twisted and secret fantasies in the real world. Each day the “artificials” are memory wiped and returned to their original state so that they can live that day all over again for the enjoyment and entertainment of the elite.
This all changes when Kelly (Ambyr Childers), one of the artificials, starts getting flashback memories of prior experiences. Tripping her out, Kelly escapes from Vice and stumbles out into the real world. Meeting a guest that has visited her before in Vice, named Evan (Bryan Greenberg), Kelly has to figure a way to stop the pursuing private security of Vice and somehow gain a semblance of freedom. Simultaneously we have Roy, a rogue cop, who’s bound and determined to wipe vice out for good. He sees the bad that the little fantasyland wreaks upon the real world. Instead of the desired intent of Vice, wherein one comes in and vents their dark side, only to come out a better person on the other, he sees people go in and gain a taste for said darkness that spills out into their regular life. Stumbling upon the efforts of Vice owner Julian (Bruce Willis) trying to re-acquire Kelly in the real world, Roy and Kelly find themselves working together to bring down the one man who perpetuates this cycle of oppression and evil.
“Vice” is not going to really bring the sci-fi world to its knees, as the major flaws it boasts are in the writing department. The lines are clichéd, the performances by the leads uninspired and there are more than a few times where you wonder what age the person was who wrote the script. Bruce Willis does his normal “phone it in” approach that seems to be his modus operandi recently and the rest of the cast are your standard DTV cast with limited acting experience. Thomas Jane is surprisingly the only halfway decent performance in the lot, even though he’s a tad hammy in the role of Roy. I’ve always wondered what happened to him, as he seemed to have a decent career ahead of him about a decade back, but somehow vanished into the obscurity of DTV releases.
While the movie is definitely a low budget sci-fi flick, with the stereotypical bad writing, I have to admit that they really did give it their all. The action was above average for a movie of its budget and the special effects weren’t bad. The director knew his limitations and worked within those confines instead of trying to make it bigger than it needed to be and cramming in a bunch of cheap CGI. The plot line has been done before, and done much better, but I had a decent time with the movie and was rather impressed with some of the choreography and stunt work of the actors. Again, this is not citizen Kane, but it’s easily viewable and stands as one of the better DTV releases from the same genre.
Rated R for violence, language and some sexual content/nudity
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=40274[/img]Low budget films are usually never as high a quality as a large budgeted enterprise, but “Vice” manages to do quite a bit with the limited funds at its disposal. The movie tends to be very dark and tinged with a dark blue color grading, amidst the haze of a smoky environment or a dim bar. Shadows tend to show some light crush and a few instances of washed out blacks, but the detail is still very good. Fine detail in the light scenes are also mostly excellent, but there is a bit of a soft feel to the entire film, and some digital noise populates the darker scenes due to the low budget shooting. “Vice” a solid job with these dim environments as the tools at its disposal give it limited leeway to look glossy and shiny.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=40282[/img]There is one lone 5.1 DTS-HD MA track on the disc and it, much like the video, does a solid job considering the budget of a DTV film. The movie is rather front loaded for a majority of the run time, but the surrounds do have a decent amount of play as Kelly runs across the city, desperately trying to outrun the mercenaries pursuing her. There is a lot of activity, and some decent finesse, but it’s lacking some of the fine precision that a more nuanced track can provide. LFE is strong and powerful, with several moments of hard hitting bass, adding a very nice sense of depth and intensity to the audio track. Directionality is decent, and there is some very nice panning moments, especially during the introduction to Vice, as well as the shootout under the parking garage half way into the movie. Solid job by Lionsgate all around.
• Commentary with Director Brian A. Miller and Actors Ambyr Childers and Bryan Greenberg
• Behind the Scenes of "Vice"
• Cast and Crew Interviews
• Trailer Gallery
“Vice’ tends to be a bit bland and uninspired, and follows along the beaten path of repetition that plagues so many low budget features, but it has a decent amount of charm that puts it into the rental category. It’s nowhere as offense as others of its ilk and the solid video and audio give for a pleasant viewing experience. Not bad as a rental in my humble opinion.
Starring: Thomas Jane, Bruce Willis, Ambyr Childers
Directed by: Brian A. Miller
Written by: Andre Fabrizio, Jeremy Passmore
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1
Runtime: 96 Minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: March 17th 2015
Buy Vice On Blu-ray at Amazon
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