15th Jan2021

‘Hard Kill’ Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Bruce Willis, Jesse Metcalfe, Eva Marie, Lala Kent, Sergio Rizzuto, Texas Battle, Swen Temmel, Jon Galanis, Tyler Jon Olson | Written by Joe Russo, Chris LaMont | Directed by Matt Eskandari

We all know that Bruce Willis spends most of his acting days appearing in cash-grab cameos in an interminable number of direct to market films; films that pop up on supermarket shelves with Willis’ face front and centre as if he’s the star. Hard Kill is yet another example of this stage in Willis’ oeuvre.

Hard Kill is also yet another Emmett/Furla production, a company who seem to be following the PM Entertainment model of churning out action movie after action movie, with actors who are either long-term mid-carders or, like Willis, are in the twilight of their career. I’m not complaining. There was, for quite some time, a distinct lack of mid-budget original action movie fare made in the US. Of course there ere the many DTV franchises that Universal 1440 put out: Behind Enemy Lines, The Marine, Death Race, Sniper, etc. but not much by way of original storytelling. Emmett/Furla obviously saw the same gap in the market are thankfully filling that hole… With varying degrees of success may I add. But they’re still filling a need and one that – even with the reputation of some of Emmett/Furla’s films – I’m willing to support.

Hard Kill follows a team of fearless mercenaries, led by security expert Derek Miller (Jesse Metcalfe), who are considered the best mercenaries on Earth… that money can buy! They are hired by billionaire tech CEO Donovan Chalmers (Bruce Willis) to protect a piece of technology that, if exposed, could destroy the world. Their mission becomes even higher risk when Chalmers’ daughter is kidnapped by an extremely dangerous terrorist group led by The Pardoner (Sergio Rizzuto), who will stop at nothing to obtain the tech from Chalmers. Dead or alive.

Surprisingly seeing Bruce Willis in yet another DTV action film, especially after last years Trauma Centre – which frankly wasted Willis’ name and face (though it was a joy to watch lead actress, and the films true star, Nicky Whelan kick ass in the movie) – wasn’t the main attraction this time round. No. Instead it was the writing duo of Joe Russo and Chris LaMont, who together also wrote last years The Au Pair Nightmare which, I’m not going to lie, I really rather enjoyed; which attracted me to this film. Oh, and the fact we get to see former WWE Superstar Eva Marie as a bad-ass mercenary too. After all, WWE superstars usually make for good action movie heroes no matter the budget – they have the experience of performing and fighting from their time in the ring, which typically translates to a good on-screen movie performance; and that’s certainly true off Eva Marie.

In terms of action, Hard Kill is the very definition of action-packed. In fact once the plot is explained the film is nothing BUT action, taking this story into Assault on Precinct 13 territory as Miller and co. defend themselves – in a typical out-gunned fashion – inside an abandoned warehouse as The Pardoner and his men try to make their way in by force. Which means plenty of gunfights, some hand to hand combat… and Bruce Willis locked in a room for his safety less than 30 minutes into the film, almost (I did say almost) never to be seen again!

Easily one of the better films to come out of the Emmett/Furla stable, Hard Kill works, surprisingly, thanks to the films limitations – the singular location, the small cast and the simple plot; and also a compelling performance from actor Jesse Metcalfe, who gets a chance to follow-up on his action role in the second Escape Plan movie and really shine as an heroic leading man.

Hard Kill is out now.

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