The Prince Review

Posted: August 22, 2014 in Action, Reviews
Tags: , , , ,

The PrinceHere is what you need to know about The Prince.

It is not a Bruce Willis movie. It is not a John Cusack movie. It is, in fact, a Jason Patric movie. While the trio share prominence in the trailer, poster, and other marketing material, the three do not appear as a group in the film. Willis and Cusack do not have a single scene together. Willis and Patric are ostensibly both in the finale, but are never in the same frame.

This is Old Hollywood – or, at least, the marketing department at Old Hollywood. The same people who put all the good scenes from a movie in the trailer because they know you’ll think, “Hey, they wouldn’t put all the good stuff in the trailer, would they?” place Willis front and center so you’ll think, “Hey, they wouldn’t draw my attention to Bruce Willis unless the movie was all about him, would they?”

Guess again.

The story centers on Patric as Paul, a former scumbag who fled his native New Orleans 20 years ago after mistakenly blowing up Willis’s wife and daughter in the middle of a gang war – on the first day of school, right after Daddy gave her a present to open in class. Damn you, damn you all to hell – we never get to see what the present was! And that doesn’t sit well with Omar. Yeah, Willis is named Omar in this one, seemingly without irony. The absence of irony abounds as only ironic absences can. Paul must now return to NOLA in search of his own daughter, a college student who has gone missing.

His guide to the new underworld is one of his daughter’s classmates, Angela (Jessica Lowndes), and that’s a problem, because supposedly teenaged Angela has mascara that looks to be in its mid-20’s. Lowndes is so badly miscast in a role that is also terribly written that it wrecks the film almost from the beginning. All the casting attention obviously went to the above-the-credit talent leaving this vital supporting role as an afterthought.

Add to this a script that sounds as if it were drafted in a language other than English and then passed through Google Translate. Cusack seems to be the chief repository for this gibberish, which is not that consequential since he is given very little to do. At one point, he says to Patric, “That’s high cotton, blood.” Conceding the point that there is no obvious moment in any movie yet made where that line would flow naturally, one must point out that the delivery comes at a time in this film when the characters are wrestling with life-and-death issues that would dictate clear messaging in a common language.

As bad as the script is, the direction is worse. The action scenes are so awful that as Patric arms himself for the bloody climax with Willis, all a viewer can think is, “Can’t you guys just sit down and talk about this?” The movie contains one of the most uninvolving, unimaginative, underwhelming car chases ever filmed, at the end of which, Patric leaves the guy who was shooting at him alive, but kills the driver, who probably deserved no more than a stern warning. Throughout the film’s 90-minute runtime, gunshot victims seem to be doing a choreography to the “Shimmy Shimmy Shake” as they begin to convulse in their death throes before a weapon is even fired. There’s a YouTube compendium clip of poorly acted deaths just waiting to be spliced together.

On the plus side, Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson steals the one scene he’s in as The Pharmacy, a character described as a lunatic, but who comes off as the most lucid, articulate, and calm individual in the entire affair. 50 Cent, Willis, Cusack, and Patric could make a hellavu team in a better film. Here, we’re left pondering questions such as why Willis chose a role as a bad guy or baddish guy that provides so little opportunity for good cinematic badassness? It’s been a rough year for 80’s action heroes with The Expendables 3 bombing at the box office and Jean-Claude Van Damme suffering a sissy’s death in Swelter. Willis ends up a punk in The Prince, and it’s not a lot of fun to watch.

One star.

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