The last of Bruce Willis’ films continue to trickle out, and the most recent one to come my way is Wrong Place, which reunites Willis with music supervisor turned director Mike Burns and writer Bill Lawrence, the team responsible for Out of Death. I won’t blame you if you give up on it after reading that.
Frank (Bruce Willis, Vendetta, Marauders) was a police chief, now he’s a security guard. But when we first see him he’s still a cop. He and his wife Maggie (Lauren McCord, Fortress, Out of Death) are drunkenly discussing their daughter Chloe (Ashley Greene, One Shot, Twilight) being diagnosed with cancer. On the way home from their wine-soaked dinner he swerves to avoid a deer on the road. I’m sure you can guess the rest.
A year later, he steps outside for a smoke break just in time to see Virgil (Massi Furlan, Amazon Queen, Live by Night) about to put a bullet in Leon (Adam Huel Potter, Hard Kill, Breach). Personally, I’m all for letting meth dealers kill each other off, but he intervenes and Virgil ends up in jail. This doesn’t sit well with his son Jake (Michael Sirow, Survive the Game, Primal) who wants revenge. Of course, this happens right before Chloe comes home for a visit.
Burns and Lawrence load Wrong Place up with a seemingly endless supply of cliches that are supposed to serve as a plot. It’s another movie that feels like it was put together from a list of plot elements rather than an actual story. And that extends to the subplots, the rift between Virgil and Jake. The differences between Frank and Captain East (Texas Battle, Blowback, Final Destination 3), the man who replaced him. And of course, Virgil’s gun wasn’t found, casting doubt on Frank’s story.
Most insulting though is the way Wrong Place’s script tries to make us feel bad for Frank. After all his breathalyzer came back barely over the limit, the fact that he was still drunk enough to turn his wife into BBQ is a mere detail. It’s amazing he bounced back from what he went through.
After we wade through all of this and make it to the film’s halfway mark, Wrong Place finally gets around to remembering it’s supposed o be a thriller and Jake takes Chloe and her girlfriend hostage. Unfortunately Jake is such an absolute fuck up it’s hard to take him seriously as a villain, even when his stupidity, such as forgetting to put his mask back on and letting people see his face, puts people in even more jeopardy.
It’s the same problem I talked about in my review of Pact of Vengeance a couple of days ago. An action film or thriller needs a serious threat to be effective. When the villain is clearly no threat to the hero there’s no threat and the movie is dull. That’s why Arnold had to fight Predators and Martians and Rambo had to face off against entire armies. Wrong Place gives us an idiot who keeps getting beat up and maced by Chloe. They might as well have cast Willie E. Coyote.
Everyone stumbles about in the woods for the last half hour. People we think are dead turn up still alive with a couple of exceptions that won’t surprise anyone. Wrong Place ends on a note that is supposed to be sentimental but most viewers will be overjoyed that it’s finally over. If they’re not nauseated at how contrived it feels. I know bashing these films is like shooting fish in a barrel, but Wrong Place is awful, even by late-career Willis standards.
Vertical Entertainment will debut Wrong Place in select US theaters as well as on VOD and Digital platforms on July 15th.