13th Jul2021

‘Out of Death’ Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Jaime King, Bruce Willis, Lala Kent, Kelly Greyson, Tyler Jon Olson, Michael Sirow, Oliver Trevena | Written by Bill Lawrence | Directed by Mike Burns

Out of Death is the latest 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 are 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.

Out of Death also follows a familiar production model to PM Entertainment too – here the films director, Mike Burns, has previously worked on Emmett/Furla films in a music supervisor capacity (on films like Hard Kill and Trauma Centre) and has now been given the chance to direct his first feature; which was also written by a first timer, Bill Lawrence.

Out of Death‘s plot goers something like this: Shannon Mathers (Jaime King) is going on a photo journal trip in honour of her father when she stumbles across a meeting between cop and drug pusher Billie Stanhope (Lala Kent) and her distributor Jimmy (Oliver Trevena). That “meeting” goes south when Billie discovers Jimmy is recording their conversation and kills him. All the while Shannon is photographing everything… Meanwhile Jack (Bruce Willis) is headed out to a cabin in the same countryside location that Shannon is hiking. Of course Jack isn’t just any bloke off the street, he’s an ex-cop whose retired and is visiting his niece Pam (Kelly Greyson) to try and get away from the city after the death of his wife.

Of course this being a small-town corrupt cop story, said cop is not working alone – in fact the ENTIRE local police force, led by Sheriff Hank Rivers (Michael Sirow), are all corrupt and complicit in the production and distribution of cocaine. And Willis being a former cop can’t help but stick his nose in and help Shannon take down the lot of them… Even if he [Willis] apparently (due to Covid) only worked one day on this film!

Oh and there’s a ridiculous twist (if you can call it that) that’s thrown into the mix around thirty minutes before the end AND then a flashback during the films denouement that explains what’s going on outside of Willis’ Jack Harris saying “trust your uncle Jack”..! It’s all a little too “clever” for its own good. It’s as if writer Bill Lawrence realised that, a little too late, his film actually had no real high stakes for anyone other than King’s character – as if the audience needed more than just having Willis’ ex-cop be a good cop than wants to help. Which, if I’m honest, was actually enough. Willis has been in enough hero roles, big and small, for audiences to known he’s always down to help and doesn’t need anything motivation other than helping others.

If you’ve seen other recent Willis “starring” films put out direct to DVD and digital then you know what to expect from Out of Death; it’s all very much the same formula as before – a younger lead, helped out by a cameoing Willis, with scenery-chewing villains all wrapped up neatly with a happy ending. As such your mileage may vary… Me, I enjoyed this one as usual.

Out of Death is due for release on July 16th.

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