L.A. Vengeance (Once Upon A Time In Venice) (DVD)

A Bruce Willis Detective Comedy

by John Leeson

4

THE QUICK SELL
The premise of L.A. Vengeance is thus: a Los Angeles detective, the only licensed one in Venice, seeks out the ruthless gang that stole his dog. Sounds fun right?

RELEASE DATE
22nd January 2018

DIRECTED BY
Mark Cullen

WRITTEN BY
Mark Cullen, Robb Cullen

Running Time:
1h 34min

Certificate:
15

 
 

The premise of L.A. Vengeance is thus: a Los Angeles detective, the only licensed one in Venice, seeks out the ruthless gang that stole his dog. Sounds fun right?

Bruce Willis (Split, Looper) is Steve, the detective in question and together with his partner John, Thomas Middleditch (Captain Underpants, Kong Skull Island), they run the only licensed detective agency in town.

The story sees them trying to catch a local graffiti artist who is spraying lude acts onto the wall of an apartment building owned by Lew The Jew, Adam Goldberg (Saving Private Ryan, A Beautiful Mind), whilst Steve tries to get his dog back from local drug dealer Spyder, Jason Momoa (Justice League, Sugar Mountain), who, in turn, wants his drugs back from girlfriend Nola, Jessica Gomes (Transformers: Age Of Extinction, Father Figures).

Whilst this is taking place Steve’s best friend Dave, John Goodman (Atomic Blonde, Kong Skull Island), is getting divorced and his wife is taking everything. Steve’s sister, Famke Janssen (Taken, X-Men) is on a downer as her husband has left and a few other characters breeze in and out of our lives as Middleditch provides running commentary.

This takes each of them to all sorts of places in order to put them in ‘funny’ situations such as a motel full of men in drag, Mexican bars, bars filled with black-men, a sex-addict workshop and a sex-addict girl, Stephanie Sigman (Spectre, The Bridge (TV)), and her huge brothers.

You’ll know writers Robb and Mark Cullen from the other, has to be said pretty familiar, film Cop Out, that also starred Bruce Willis. This time round though it’s a dog, not a baseball card that’s stolen, and Mark Cullen directs this time too.

The script is flat and predictable whilst characters are thin and go nowhere, despite Middleditch’s attempt to say otherwise in voice-over.

The main problem with L.A. Vengeance is that you are told it is a comedy, an action, comedy. It’s neither of those things. It feels like a very dated, very extended pilot episode of a TV series that never got made.

Momoa says very few words throughout and the ones he’s given contradict sharply with the character he’s meant to be playing. Sometimes this can be funny, it isn’t here. Middleditch plays the dweeby but clever assistant to Willis and, for reasons best known to others, he’s the one tasked with telling us the story and introducing us to other characters, not Willis. This creates an odd situation in that you’re never quite sure who the lead character is supposed to be.

Goldberg’s character is reduced to walking on from one side of the screen, getting frustrated at Willis, and then walking off again. It’s as frustrating to watch as it sounds. A criminally underused Goodman gives a lacklustre performance, it’s as if he knows the type of film he’s in before it’s finished.

And then we get to Willis. Still turning out action flicks at the grand old age of 62, Willis has never looked like a man who’s just had enough of all this as he does here. He looks fed-up, it feels like he’s going through the motions, it’s not a high point.

The DVD contains a making of video, that’s more like an extended trailer, and the trailer for the movie.

 

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