Thursday, July 7, 2016

Marauders


   Marauders is stylish right out of the gate, ramping up mood and atmosphere, promising to be more than just a cops and robbers thriller. If not more, per se, then at least... deeper. I was pretty hooked throughout the movie, but I found my attention drifting every so often- facebook, snacks, et cetera. Why? Because in this movie with a needlessly complicated plot, there's so much junk in it that simply doesn't matter. It's telling that I had low expectations simply because it's a Direct-to-VOD release, and Bruce Willis is in it. People love to whine about DeNiro no longer doing powerful films, but can we talk about Bruce Willis for a second? Dude is setting records for most DTV junk ever. Is the term 'has been' a bit too harsh?

   I was surprised that this role wasn't his usual thing, but that's not exactly high praise either. He probably got top billing on the cast list, and got the least amount of screentime. There's just nothing happy about seeing him in movies anymore, because they all smack of low budget nonsense. And it's not the crazy kind of low budget nonsense, like Deathgasm or anything. No, he sticks exclusively to crime thrillers, usually involving either an assassin or robberies. I mean, I get it, acting is a job and it pays bills. I can't fault Willis for putting bread on the table, but he's no longer an actor I even like watching anymore. His old stuff, sure. I just watched Die Hard With a Vengeance for the thousandth time last week. Still a damn good flick like the other three that exist, and unlike a certain other sequel that we don't talk about.

   Anyways, point being, this is exactly what was going through my head while watching the movie. Constantly. The plot is so complicated (as opposed to complex) and meandering, that I tuned out to reflect on Bruce Willis' career. When I happened to tune back in, it was another robbery scene or Christopher Meloni being a badass and saying 'fuck' a lot. The robbery scenes crackle with energy and style, and it's genuinely gripping stuff. The team of robbers are so well realized on screen that you get genuinely interested in why they're doing what they're doing. Because with the murders and the clues, it's clearly not about the money. Not really. As an equal and opposite force in the movie, Meloni has his own energy that's fun to watch. Dude's engaging in just about anything.

   The movie also has a mind numbing excess of plot and characters. There's a whole CHUNK of the movie, both runtime and in concept that could've been left right the fuck out and the movie would've been better off. The movie felt like it wanted to be a major crime epic and a political thriller, but fizzles out in the details. You constantly feel like you should be paying attention, only to be rewarded with characters and motivations that are as plain as can be. There was a twist I didn't see coming, but maybe I would've if I wasn't wondering how Willis fell from the A list in Hollywood.  When Meloni's character figures everything out and (mild spoilers ahead) confronts the guy behind the robberies- he asks him if he decided to just do his plan and take the money as some extra compensation.

   The guy replies, "Yeah, I guess. I don't know." There's the mastermind ladies and gentlemen. The duplicitous character we've been invested in, and most of his actions in the movie are summed up with "Yeah, I guess. I don't know." It's a major fuck you to a movie that laid out details like a web of intrigue, only to say 'screw you' for looking at a mess of bread crumbs and seeing a pattern. There's no 'point' to the movie. It's a basic revenge thriller more than anything, but even the true villain isn't given enough screentime to be evil enough for us to hate him or feel anything when his arc is resolved. The movie's 107 minutes long, and it all expires in a very flat and lifeless ending. It's an ending you'd be forgiven for thinking isn't bad, because the acting is solid all around, but...

   The story is a mess, and even when it makes sense, it's still a mess. I loved the visuals, the atmosphere, and the style of the movie. Things usually lacking in these sorts of affairs, but not here. Yet it doesn't make Marauders worth watching, but if you do feel compelled to give it a look-see, you probably won't hate it. I didn't. I thought it was okay, and it had a handful of interesting concepts and some cracking action scenes, but not much else. It felt three hours long when it wasn't even a full two. You could do better than Marauders for a weeknight VOD pick. In fact, avoid anything with Willis on VOD. He seems to be like a merit badge on these movies, saying "look! We got someone really famous to be in our movie for ten minutes!" Even Nicolas Cage's VOD fare is more interesting than this stuff. Ouch.

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