Out Of Death – review

Brief synopsis: a woman witnesses a policewoman murdering a man. The policewoman, along with other interested parties, needs to eliminate the woman. 

A veteran policeman saves the woman from certain death. They join forces to expose the corruption in the small town. 

Is it any good?: Out of Death is so bad that I am struggling to find an appropriate adjective to describe its awfulness. There is nothing to recommend this film. 

The acting is, without exception, terrible, the script, atrocious. The directing is amateurish and the story, lazy and ill-thought-out. 

Spoiler(ish) territory: Dropped off by a friend, Shannon (Jamie King) joke that if she is not back in a few hours, her friend should call search and rescue. 

Shannon heads off into the woods. It is beginning to rain. Well, a digital approximation of rain. Rain is very difficult to fake digitally; I have tried. The digital rain makes no difference to the main story. 

She is in the woods to bury her father’s ashes. The impending storm – that never comes – gives her pause. Maybe it’s a sign. She writes this in a journal she has brought with her. 

The fake storm passes, a tattooed man, Jimmy (Oliver Trevena), drives into a clearing. He sorts out money and drugs, snorts some powder. He hides his mobile phone behind the rearview mirror, putting it to record. 

A police car comes up behind him. Policewoman Bille Jean ( Lala Kent) gets out and approaches his vehicle. She gets into his truck. Jimmy gets amorous, Billie Jean stops him; business first. 

Jimmy has not sold enough. They have a deal. She seizes the drugs and he sells them; that’s the deal. She is going to have to find another dealer. Jimmy begins to question her, his line of questioning odd. 

His mobile pings. Billie Jean finds his mobile and sees that it is recording. They begin to argue. Loudly. Shannon, who is watching them and has her camera out filming them, watches the argument unfold. 

A rumbled Jimmy throws powder in Billie Jean’s face and makes a run for it. She gets out of the truck and kills him, shooting him in the head. It is another crappy digital effect. Shannon captures the whole thing. 

She drags Jimmy’s lifeless body back to his truck. There is no blood on her. Maybe the cocaine kept the blood off of her. Elsewhere, Uncle Jack (Bruce Willis) has come to the small rural town to visit his younger brother. 

Niece, Pam (Kelly Greyson), tells him that her father is away. Jack is a bit down. His wife died three weeks earlier. Pam tells him it will take some time for him to get over it. Pam is a genius. She adds that being in the country, near the lake, is healing. Thank you, Pam. 

Pam’s son, Pete (Keagan Lasater), comes to greet Jack. The boy has inherited his mother’s tact, immediately noting how sad his great uncle seems. Jack gifts him a video game. That shuts him up. 

The boy buggers off. He only turned up for a gift. I’m guessing he is related to Bruce, as there is no reason for him to be in the film. Back with Jack. And his misery. Jack wonders what he will do out in that rural backwater. 

Pam, ever a font of useless advice, says to enjoy the peace. Jack decides to go for a hike. One would. Pam tells him he should take his gun, just in case he should encounter a bear. 

One would think the mention of a possible bear sighting would dissuade him. Nope, not one bit. Back in the woods, Billie Jean has moved Jimmy’s vehicle into the bushes. Shannon is still filming her. Billie Jean hears her moving around and shouts. She fires a warning into the air. 

A frightened Shannon runs but not before dropping her camera. Yes, she drops the only piece of evidence she has. Not that it matters in the context of the film. She goes back and finds it later. 

Billie calls back to the station to speak to Hank (Michael Sirow). They have a problem. She had to kill someone and was spotted. Hank’s brother, Tommy (Tyler Jon Olson), is also listening to the conversation. 

Hank asks where the person is. Billie tells him that she ran off. They will have to find her. He sends Tommy to help her with the search. Hank is running for Mayor. He tells Tommy to take out a promotional poster. 

Pam and Pete leave old uncle Jack. They are going away for a week. Billie and Tommy search for Shannon. They find her. Shannon, understandably, is terrified. Tommy tells Billie to kill her. Jack, who is out for his hike, sees the scene unfolding. 

He intervenes, telling Billie and Tommy to kneel. Tommy, struck by a moment of smartness, guesses that Jack, who has identified himself as law enforcement, will not shoot them. Jack tells Shannon to run. Shannon is off running. 

Jack follows after her. As he is a lot older, not as mobile as in his youth, she quickly disappears out of sight. Billie and Tommy, who Jack did not think to secure in any way, shape or form, pursue them. 

Shannon hides out in a disused warehouse. She arms herself with a knife. In the woods, Tommy and Bille split up. Billie, having lost her gun earlier, is unarmed. She finds Shannon. 

Shannon stabs her in the leg and runs again. Billie, not the smartest person on God’s earth, pulls the knife out of the wound. For a law person, she knows little about wounds. The leg begins to bleed profusely. She calls Tommy. She tourniquets the leg, slowing the bleed. 

Tommy finds Billie. She tells him she is not feeling too good. Surprise that. Jack finds Shannon. They have the dullest conversation known to man. He’s a cop. His wife died recently. She’s a photojournalist whose father felt she lacked character. Boring. 

More practically, Shannon tells him that she filmed Billie. Jack says he needs to get his phone. She will go and retrieve her camera whilst he does that. 

Tommy and a failing Billie, meet up with Hank. Hank tells Tommy he has to kill Billie. She is too much of a liability. She probably would not survive a trip to the hospital. Tommy takes off the tourniquet and lets her bleed to death. 

Hank, who is, apparently, the brains of the town, goes to the house of Pam’s father. He is looking for Jack. He just misses him, Jack slipping out as he looks around the house. 

Tommy is moving Billie’s body. He sees Shannon and gives chase, catching her. She fights him off, eventually taking his gun and killing him. Hank sees photographs of Pam in the house and realises she is related to Jack. 

He calls Pam and gets Jacks number. He leaves the house and goes looking for Tommy, who is not answering his phone. He finds him dead. The death of his sibling does not seem to bother him. 

Hank gets Pam picked up. He will use her to flush out Jack. Officer Frank (Mike Burns) gets her. He is exceedingly creepy. Hank calls Jack. He makes a bravado speech, telling him to bring Shannon to him if he wants to see his niece. 

Shannon overhears Jack agreeing to exchange her for his niece and is off running again. Jack is now pursuing her. She comes across another house – there are a lot of random remote homes in this town! – and begs the woman (Megan Leonard) to let her in. 

Jack walks into the house. Maybe he’s a ghost. Shannon forces the woman to go upstairs, locking themselves in her bedroom. Jack tells Shannon he was buying time. 

They formulate a plan. Shannon uploads her film to a computer and sends it to the FBI. Jack tells Hank where they are. Hank brings Pam to make the exchange. They outwit Hank and he gets arrested by the FBI. 

A couple of weeks later, Jack is happier. Shannon takes him to see the lake. The end. 

Final thoughts: Out of Death is total bollocks. Some actors are, basically, themselves on film. Ryan Reynolds, Dwayne Johnson, Samuel L Jackson, Chris Pratt, are guys who play the same character in practically every role. 

Bruce Willis is in this category. The only difference is, he does not even try anymore. Never has it been more evident of a man collecting a wage for the bare minimum. It is just a pension for him. 

These days, most films that Willis appears in are guaranteed to be poor. Out of Death takes his films to a new depth. He does not even try. The other actors, except for Lala Kent that worked with him in the God-awful Hard Kill, probably looked forward to being in a film with him. 

Pity for them. Written by Bill Lawrence and directed by Mike Burns, the same combinations that brought us the aforementioned, Hard Kill, manage to make an even poorer film this time around. 

The acting stinks. Kent, however, is head and shoulder below everyone else. Tyler Jon Olson does deserve a special mention for being unable to hold his breath whilst playing dead. 

At ninety-six minutes long, the film still manages to include many extraneous scenes. The film feels longer than it is because of the poor pacing. There is nothing to recommend about this film. It is an hour and a half of your life you will never see again. Avoid.

Father Christmas is Back – review

Brief synopsis: an uptight woman struggles to have a traditional Christmas with her extended family. As she strives to control all the circumstances of the festivities, another element rears its head; their estranged father.

Is it any good?: Father Christmas is Back is an utter turd of a film. A supposed comedy, the film is a painful, almost laugh-free watch.

That four people combined to write this worthless mess is a mystery that sharper minds than mine will ponder for years. 

Spoiler(ish) territory: Uptight Caroline Christmas-Hope (Nathalie Cox), is dressing the family Christmas tree. She wants Christmas to be perfect. As Caroline puts the finishing touches, she wobbles and falls. It is hilarious. No, it is not. 

Her husband, Peter (Kris Marshall), comes and picks her up off of the floor. She is frantic about having a perfect Christmas, her family en route to the home. Peter is more sanguine, sure that everything will be fine. 

As the highly-strung Caroline bleats on about wanting an exquisite Christmas, Peter listens patiently. It’s very amusing. Not really. She asks him to collect a bag of gifts from the bedroom. The gifts are for the local old peoples home. 

Get this; there are two bags of gifts! In identical bags! Haha! Anyhoo, Peter does not check the contents of the bags. No, why the heck would he do that? He radios his wife – they live in a mansion – and asks which bag. It’s the bag on the right. 

Yes, my friends, this is the expert setup for a joke, the pay-off of which comes towards the end. The hilarity continues. Caroline picks up her two sprogs, Daisey (Amelie Prescott) and her younger brother, Henry (Oliver Smith). 

They visit the old peoples home to drop off the gifts. Daisey is nervous because she is playing Mary in an upcoming nativity play. Luckily for her, one of the old dears, Jean (Ania Marson), has some experience of treading the boards. 

Jean tells Daisey that she played the lead role herself, adding that she slept with many people to get the part. A slightly embarrassed Caroline gathers her children and leaves. The laughs never stop. 

Returning home, she finds Peter has decorated the tree with toilet rolls and makeshift decorations. Caroline is horrified. The children love it. 

The next day, the sisters start to arrive. First is Joanna (Elizabeth Hurley), the cougar of the family. In her mid-forties but dressing as though she were in her twenties, Joanna has a new boyfriend, Felix (Ray Fearon) and the sisters’ mother, Elizabeth (Caroline Quentin) in tow. 

Next to arrive is Paulina (Naomi Frederick). Paulina is obsessed with The Beatles, sporting their famous hairstyle of the sixties. She is writing a thesis-cum-book on the band. My sides are hurting with all the chuckles. 

Watching proceedings from an adjacent property is John (John Cleese), uncle to the sisters. Vicky (Talulah Riley) is the last to arrive. She is a free spirit and the youngest. She is a bit of a slut. So there is that. 

John joins the family in the house. He has an ulterior motive, wanting to see Elizabeth. In the kitchen, the four sisters are chatting. Vicky tells them that she spent a couple of weeks with their father in America. 

The other sisters are shocked and a little miffed to hear that, much to her amusement. To the shock and bemusement of everyone, James (Kelsey Grammer), their father, turns up at the manor. Vicky invited him. He has brought his girlfriend, Jackie (April Bowlby). Elizabeth faints. 

The Christmas family muddle their way through…Christmas. A long-held family secret gets revealed. All is resolved. Yippee and Merry Christmas. The end. 

Final thoughts: Father Christmas is Back is wretched. It is not entirely down to the script. Maybe ninety-eight percent of it. Directed by Mick Davis and Phillippe Martinez, with a story by Martinez. The god-awful script is by Hannah Davis, David Conolly and Dylanne Corcoran. 

What makes the film even more painful, is that far better comedy writers – Caroline Quentin, John Cleese and Kathy Brand – are in the film. The acting is teak-like in the extreme, the assembled cast struggling to make the material work. 

Hurley, not blessed with natural acting ability, is poor. The woman is trying but she is out of her depth. Rolls Royce gets a good showing, one of their beautiful Wraith’s given much screen time. The best thing in the film.

The film is over-saturated, so colourful that even a rainbow would pale in comparison. A British film, there is a smattering of farce that does not work. There are far too many jokes that do not work in this film. 

The unfunny scenes are too numerous to list. That two comedy greats in Grammer and Cleese should find themselves in one such scene, – the ‘old blokes squaring up for a fight’ a classic! – is criminal. 

Father Christmas is Back – his surname is Christmas! Ho ho no. – is terrible. Truthfully, the trailer does not promise much. I expected the film to be bad. It under delivers spectacularly. 

At one-hundred-and-five minutes, it is not a long film. However, it is still too long for any right-minded, sober person to sit through. You have been warned.

Deadly Illusions

Brief synopsis: A semi-retired writer hires a nanny-cum-help to look after her children when a business deal her husband invested in goes bad and she feels forced to accept a lucrative deal from her publisher. She takes on a nanny to help with household chores and looking after her children.

Suffering from writer’s block, she is unsure whether her mind is playing tricks on her or if the nanny is too wonderful to be true. 

Is it any good?: Um, no, not really. With a standard made-for-tv-esque title, Deadly Illusions is lazy and uninspired. It also does not seem to know what kind of film it is supposed to be. With echoes of Shutter Island, Misery and every made-for-television thriller ever made, Deadly Illusions mistakes a meandering pace for tension, tacking on a bonkers ending that is as confusing and underwhelming as the rest of the film. 

Spoiler territory: picturesque family, semi-retired author, Mary (Kristin Davis), husband, Tom (Dermot Mulroney) and their twins, Sam (Shylo Molina) and Alex (Marie Wagenman), are having breakfast before Tom leaves to go and do an unspecified job and the twins head to school. 

Mary, alone in the house, makes a great show of getting dressed, matching her outfit, shoes, jewellery and even spectacles. All very professional. She has a meeting with her agent, Kioki (Shawn Wu), in her house. She got spruced up for a meeting in her own home and does not even fancy her agent! 

Kioki turns up at the home with his new associate, Darlene (Abella Bala), who it turns out is the backbone Kioki does not have. They want Mary to write a sequel to her bestseller. Mary is happy to let a ghostwriter do it and just collect the cheques. Kioki takes out a contract offer that he hopes she will be interested in. 

The publishing company is going through a difficult period and need Mary to come to their rescue. Right. Mary feels blindsided. Kioki mislead her. She does not want to write, regardless of the offer. Just keep sending the cheques! 

Mary shows them the door. Kioki, the suck-up, bids her farewell with a peck on the cheek and assures her the cheques will keep coming. The ballsy and, frankly, couldn’t-give-a-shit about Mary’s reputation Darlene, tells her, with a few choice words, that she should help the little people, considering that there was a time when she was a struggling writer. 

Mary, heartless superstar and above such things, suggests she should be fired. She doesn’t get her fired, so she is not that powerful. Later, the picture-perfect family are sitting down to dinner as Tom returns from work. 

He sees the contract from Mary’s meeting and asks her about it. The advance is substantial and Tom thinks she should consider it. Mary thinks they should have dinner. Later, Tom shows her he is still a stud between the sheets, satisfying her to such an extent that she has to have a cigar on the balcony post-coital. 

On the balcony, Tom’s true reasoning for his exemplary efforts comes to light. He made a bad deal six months before and wiped out half of their savings. Mary is pissed. He promised he would never do it again. He promised! Tom goes back to bed. 

The next day, Mary is at the gym with her best friend, Elaine (Shanola Hampton). She is telling her about the deal she has been offered. Elaine asks if she is going to take up the deal? Mary is not sure. She turns into a different person when she is writing. The Hulk? Mrs Hyde? 

Elaine tells her it can help her take her life in a different direction, to do stuff she wants to do – whatever the heck that means. Elaine tells her she needs a full-time sitter. What? Why? Her kids are at school during the day…anyhoo, Mary is not so sure. 

She did not spend thousands of dollars to have them – she is a little bit beyond child-rearing age so one assumes she is referring to IVF treatments, though she could be talking about buying them. It’s not clear. – so as someone else could bring them up. Elaine is insistent, giving her a battered business card, one would think she was getting a commission. 

Mary asks why she does not use them. Mary tells she cannot afford them and they only take on certain types of client. Elaine is a black woman, so that could be definitely interpreted as…classist? Anyhoo, broke-ass Elaine only works three days a week but if she worked full-time, she would use them. If they would take her. 

Elaine, saleswoman of the year, carries on pushing the notion of a sitter, telling Mary that the girls they recruit come from the best Ivy League schools and speak multiple languages. Sounds all-white – sorry – alright to me! Mary is sold.

Mary goes to the highly recommended – by Elaine – Huntsman Enterprises services and meets Angela (Ellen Humphreys), the owner of the business. Angela carries on the sales pitch, assuring Mary of the quality of her charges and their services. She offers to send over some potential candidates. Mary agrees. 

The next day, Mary interviews a slew of unsuitable candidates. If all of these girls are supposedly of high calibre, one shudders to think what the average nanny must be like. Mary contacts Tom to bemoan the quality of the interviewees. He thinks she might be being a little too picky but also, remembering that all of this shit is his fault, butters her up a bit, telling her she is the best mother and it would be impossible to replace her. 

Mary ends the call because she sees another girl arriving on a bicycle. Looking like a cross between a schoolgirl and bible student, with an above the knee A-line skirt, pop socks and pumps, Grace (Greer Grammer), sits reading as Mary prepares tea. Just a thought – did she prepare tea for every interviewee? That is a lot of tea! 

Mary and Grace bond over her love of books. Though Grace loves books, she has no idea who Mary is. Mary gets a call and excuses herself. Whilst she is on the phone, the children return from school. They are arguing. Grace pacifies them by telling them a story based on a drawing Sam has done. The drawing is kind of crappy. 

Mary ends her call and sends the children off to play as she concludes her meeting with Grace. Grace picks up another book and remarks about how she would borrow it if she saw it in a library. Mary says she thinks that she has another book that she would really like and takes her to another room.

Grace belatedly notices that Mary is quite an accomplished writer herself and is suitably overcome with the thought of being in the house of a famous author. Mary’s ego soothed by the recognition and fawning, immediately employs her, telling her she can start next week. Grace is giddy with happiness at being employed. Oh, to be young again…

The next week, Grace is looking after the children and some other random kid who I think is meant to be Elaine’s child but he looks Latin-American. Maybe he’s adopted? The kids want to go swimming and excitedly ask if they can. Grace says she will look after them. Mary tells Grace she can borrow one of her swimsuits. The pool, by the by, is in the back garden. Not so much going swimming as…swimming. 

By the pool, Elaine and Mary are cleaning…windows, yes, really, whilst Grace frolics in the pool with the children. Elaine notes the youthful Grace’s figure in the swimsuit. Mary, an attractive woman but in this harsh world, the wrong side of forty-five, dismisses Elaine’s comments. Tom returns from work and introduces himself to Grace, who is now smuggling peanuts in her swimsuit. 

Later, as Grace looks after the children, Tom takes advantage of her presence to grab a little naughty time with his spouse in the larder. Tom is a beast! 

As Grace puts the children to bed, Tom prepares dinner. He invites her to join them for dinner as she is leaving but Grace tells them that she thinks dinner is family time and leaves. 

The next day, Grace brings Mary tea – you would think this film was British with the amount of tea that gets served – she is still dressed like a naughty schoolgirl-cum-bible student. Mary turns her attention to writing. In the kitchen, Grace hears a crash and Mary screams out. She has broken a glass and cut her foot in the bathroom.

Grace takes care of her foot, putting a plaster on it. It is a supremely awkward watch. Mary, suffering from writer’s block after looking at a blank page for thirty seconds and slightly discombobulated by a glimpse of Grace’s raggedy bra, decides to take her shopping, because one would. They go shopping for bras. 

As Grace tries on different bras, Mary remarks on the perkiness of her breast and Grace espouses the fact that anyone would want bigger breasts. She places Mary’s hand on her breast. The store assistant pops her head into the changing room and disrupts the moment. Thank god! The two women return home with bags of clothing for Grace. Mary also tells her she can look at her old clothing. Very generous. 

After ogling Grace’s youthful body all day, Mary asks Tom if he thinks she should get plastic surgery. Tom, a man who has obviously played the Russian roulette of stupid questions that women ask, avoids the subject like a champ. The two begin to get amorous but are interrupted by the now ever-present Grace. 

It is the next day, Mary is still struggling with writer’s block. She lights a cigar and goes for a walk around her garden and pool area. She daydreams about Grace. Later in the day, she is having a meeting with suck up Kioki, Darlene the bitch and some other suit who remains nameless. They all have ideas about what direction the book should be heading in. Mary daydreams about Grace being provocative. 

The nameless suit guy yammers on about exploring darkness and taking the book in a new direction. Could they not have told the same shit to a ghostwriter? Mary meets up with Elaine at the gym. Elaine, who it turns out is her therapist, listens as she tells her about her feelings towards Grace. Elaine, possibly the world’s worst therapist, tells her to use her as her muse. 

Mary returns home and suggests to Tom they go out to dinner. The only problem is they did not book a sitter. Grace, of course, offers to stay late and look after the children. Tom and Mary go out. They meet up with Elaine and her partner, Rick (Cajardo Lindsey) at a charity dinner. Rick asks about the book. Mary tells him that she is having a hard time writing it.

He mentions that the fourth book in the series was his favourite, something Mary acknowledges is common amongst the readership. The only problem is she wrote it at a very dark time in her life and now her life is sunshine and roses. Rick, ignoring everything she has just told him, tells her she needs to lean into the darkness more. Everyone’s a writer and critic it seems…

Around the pool, Mary is writing and getting some sun. Ever the bringer of tea, Grace comes with a tray laden with the magical brew. Mary asks her to put some suncream on her back. Moments after Grace has put cream on her back – at her request – Mary jumps in the pool! How rude! Naked in the pool, Mary invites Grace to join her. 

After their tomfoolery by the pool, Mary takes them both into the house and gives the girl, who she has looking after her children, a drink whilst the two jump around to some pop-rock music. Mary falls asleep and awakens with dreams of Grace sucking her breast. 

Grace goes to a musical recital with the family. Mary takes her aside and tells her that they cannot repeat the antics of their day by the pool. Grace does not know what she is talking about. Mary takes her ignorance as understanding and says no more. Mary has a bath and another vivid dream. She imagines Grace pleasuring her in the bath. 

The next day, Mary is writing furiously, her writer’s block lifted. Grace and Tom keep the children occupied so as she can work. Tom takes the kids to school and Grace out for a bite to eat. Elaine sees him with Grace. At a diner, Grace surprises Tom with a different facet of her personality, mysterious and a little seductive. 

Back in the house, Mary is smoking a cigar. Grace dances in the car as Tom drives them back. Another day rolls around, Mary decides to take Grace out on a bike ride to celebrate completing her first draft. The two find a quiet spot by a lake and eat lunch. Mary reads poetry to Grace. Grace caresses her leg. 

The two kiss passionately but Mary stops them from going further. They return home and Elaine is with Tom waiting. She takes Mary aside and asks if their love life is okay. She does not trust Grace. Mary accuses Elaine of wanting Tom. A bit out of left field but okay…Elaine rightly tells her she is being ridiculous. 

Grace and Mary are in the kitchen together. Mary tells her that her wedding anniversary is coming up. Grace tries to seduce her. As she is about to succumb, they are interrupted by the rest of the family. Mary, lightheaded from Grace’s advances, takes to her bed. She wakes up some time late and makes her way down to the kitchen. 

She sees Tom and Grace enjoying a perverse sex game. Mary collapses. She wakes later and comes to find Tom preparing dinner. Grace joins them at the table. Mary asks Grace why she is there and tells them what she saw. Sam, the little twerp, says mommy is scaring him. Later, Mary has a meltdown, accusing Tom of destroying their lives. Tom apologises. I have no idea what they are going on about. 

Mary calls the agency to ask about payment. They tell her she never employed anybody. Grace is pottering about the house. Mary decides to find out more about Grace, finding out her full name by going to the library she uses. So she employed a woman without knowing her full name or anything else about her. Mother of the year right there. 

Mary goes to see Elaine. Elaine has been killed with a scissors in her neck. She is the only major black character and she dies! I mean….! Mary calls the police and is held as the prime suspect, all evidence pointing to her somehow. Fingerprints on the scissors, random woman filmed walking into the office building, her book notes…yeah, it’s flimsy and bollocks. 

Tom turns up with their lawyer. He gets her out but he wants to know where she disappeared to for three hours the night Elaine was killed. Mary is perplexed. She thinks she was gone for minutes – none of this is shown in the film by the way. Mary sneaks out of THE POLICE STATION and heads to an address she found somehow – the film is really falling apart now. 

Mary goes to an old house where Grace grew up. The woman in the house, aunty Lotty (Melissa Chambers), tells Mary about Grace’s dark past. Lotty has a split personality, speaking with two distinct voices. No idea why. Grace grew up in a large family with many siblings all of whom were treated horribly by their parents. 

Mary imagines how Grace, overhearing her and Elaine’s conversation at the gym, might have tricked her way into her life. Back at her house, Tom is taking a shower. Grace, dressed like a dominatrix, grabs a kitchen knife and confronts him in the bathroom. Tom tells her he does not want to play their sex games anymore and throws a flower pot at her. 

He misses and gets sliced across the stomach for his troubles, he tries to fight her off and suffers many more cuts for his efforts. Mary returns home and calls to him. Hearing Mary, Grace runs from the bathroom and changes faster than Christopher Reeves’ Superman back into her schoolgirl-cum-bible student get up. Mary finds Tom whining and apologising in a bloody heap in the shower.

Grace comes into the bathroom and starts clearing up the blood. Mary tells her to call 911 and asks what happened. Grace says she tried to stop her. Who? Grace turns into Margaret, a homicidal maniac. Grace tells Mary to run. Margaret pursues her. They fight in the kitchen. Grace talks to her alter-ego, Margaret, telling her she would never have survived without her. 

Mary hits her with a vase. A semi-conscious Grace cries. A year later, Mary is in a good place again with her family. She goes and visits Elaine’s grave and then onto see Grace in a mental institution. Grace is overjoyed to see her. A woman leaves the hospital, her identity disguised by a scarf and sunglasses. The end. 

Final thoughts: Deadly Illusions is confusing nonsense. Written and directed by Anna Elizabeth James, the film is even more wretched on a second viewing. With a runtime of nearly two hours, the film spends most of its runtime building to the highly underwhelming conclusion. 

The actors are fine, considering the material but I can only think they read a different script or filmed a different one and are as confused by the finished product as the rest of us. It as though the film was stuck between two ideas and could not commit to either. 

Davis’ Mary is apparently affected by her writing process but we never see it or even get enough exposition to explain how it might manifest. Grammer’s Grace came from a large family and was mistreated but so what? The split personality is seemingly explained in a piss poor scene, flashback, to her childhood, when her ‘Margaret’ persona saved her. 

There was no rhyme or reason given for Grace’s attachment to Mary or why she would pursue a job in childcare. Mulroney’s Tom succumbing to Grace’s youthful charms was a story as old as time and even though it made very little sense in the context of the story, it could easily be overlooked. 

Mary’s sudden lusting for the nubile Grace felt like bandwagon jumping, shoeing in a lesbian element just for the sake of modernity. Admittedly, their relationship in the film was closer than that of Tom and Grace but the sexual side, with both characters seemingly actively pursuing it, made no sense. 

The film did look good and was edited competently. Musically, it was just a standard foreboding soundtrack, the only break being for the rock-pop interludes that added nothing extra to the film. Deadly Illusions is an over thought out, underwhelming mess of a film and not worth nearly two hours of your time. Give it a miss.

Hard Kill – review

Brief synopsis: A billionaire hires a group of special forces mercenaries to protect him from a terrorist that wants to kidnap him and retrieve some codes for a new program he has developed. The terrorist is known to the group. He is a man they had believed dead. The terrorist also has the billionaire’s daughter. 

Is it any good?: Hard Kill is terrible. Of course it is. Bruce Willis is in it and he has not been in a good film since the second Die Hard. Maybe the third. Willis aside, Hard Kill is a mess of a film with a convoluted story, crappy dialogue and awful performances. I would say it is, mercifully, short with a runtime of only ninety-seven minutes, but watching it is such an eye-searing torture, it feels like it is hours long. Avoid. 

Spoiler territory: In a warehouse, filmed in slow motion, a team of mercenaries are up against a small army all clad in black. But we are getting ahead of ourselves. Sometime before, Eva Chalmers (Lala Kent), a blonde with too much botox in her face, is meeting in a scary, unspecified, warehouse location, with The Pardoner (Sergio Rizzuto), a terrorist and the bad guy.

We know he is the bad guy because he has a scowl and his beard is not very well tended to. Eva gives him a hard drive. It contains project 725 on it, a miracle A. I technology apparently. The Pardoner – a really stupid name for a character that I am going to have to type multiple times! – is very pleased to receive it. I think he is anyway, can’t really tell. 

As any self-respecting terrorist would be, especially if what he says is true and how it will help him change the world. He is an antagonist with a plan. It is a stupid plan but a plan nonetheless. He is going to change the world. 

The next morning, Derek Miller (Jesse Metcalfe – the pretty boy from Desperate Housewives) is woken from his slumber by his mobile phone’s alarm. He grabs his phone. There is a message. He has a meeting later in the day. For some reason, this prompts him to pray. As he prays, he remembers the conflicts he has seen. He is a soldier, his body marked by war. 

Whilst having a coffee for breakfast, Miller cleans his gun. His apartment is not exactly a palace. He gets dressed and goes to his meeting. He is picked up by a limousine. In the car is Dayton Chalmers (Bruce Willis), after a brief introduction he tells Miller that he is impressed by his service record. 

He himself was in the military – of course he was – and saw a lot of action. Now he is a tech billionaire. Miller wants to know why he switched from going to war zones to becoming a tech billionaire. Chalmers, who for some reason still wants to employ the idiot, tells him it was because of family. Okay then….

Miller wants to know who recommended him to Chalmers. The Limo picks up another passenger. It is Nick Fox (Texas Battle), the man who recommended him and an old colleague of Miller’s. The two men greet one another and Fox gets down to selling the gig to Miller. He tells him about The Pardoner and how he has stolen a piece of dangerous tech. 

There is a failsafe code that can prevent The Pardoner – argh! – using the technology fully. Only Chalmers has the code. Fox wants Miller and his team to look after him until they can retrieve the tech. Chalmers wants to check out an old warehouse site and needs protection whilst doing that. That’s the story they give him anyway. It should be an easy job and it pays well. Really well. Miller agrees to take the job. 

At a bar, Dash Hawkins (Swen Temmel), persuades his drunk buddy (Adam Huel Patter), to hit on a girl at the bar. As he heads towards the woman, Harrison Zindel (Joe Galanis), who had been playing pool and watching the scene unfold, tells Dash he is an arsehole. The drunk grabs the woman at the bar. The woman, Sasha (Natalie Eva Marie), Harrison’s sister, slams the drunk’s head into the bar, twisting his arm behind his back.

As Harrison and Dash giggle, Sasha, noting their glee, scowls at them. Miller comes into the bar and tells her to let go of the drunk. They have business to discuss. The four sit down and Miller tells them about the job that Chalmers’ has offered. Sasha is not so sure, it does not sound right. Miller tells them it is an easy protection job. Alarm bells surely? No? Okay…

Sasha agrees to do the job. Dash, at the thought of a good payday, is all in as well. Harrison does not think it is worth the hassle and wishes them good luck. Sasha, who does not watch shitty B-movie action films, persuades her brother to come along, effectively signing his death warrant. 

The next day, the team accompany Chalmers and Fox to the abandoned warehouse. On the roof of one of the many buildings, a sniper is watching them as they enter the site. Inside the building, Miller asks where the building manager is. Fox tells him there is no building manager. It was a ruse to get him and his team there. 

The Pardoner – nope. Nah. Stupid! – is meeting Chalmers there. He has his daughter – yep, the same one that gave him the tech – and wants the codes in exchange for her. Outside, the antagonist – it’s better than calling him the Pardo..! – has a small battalion of men all clad in black with face coverings, watching the building. 

He has Eva in cuffs. He grabs her by the back of the head telling her that he thought she would understand his methodology. She will understand when it is all over. All I understand is he has watched too many Bond films and is an underwhelming villain. 

Back in the warehouse, Fox is justifying his duplicity by telling Miller that all of them and their ilk, ex-military types, crave action and money. He is offering both. Miller tells him that not only did he bring them there under false pretenses, they are also undermanned and lack firepower. The rest of the team want to beat the smug out of Fox but Bruce, sorry, Chalmers tells them not to. 

They are there because of him and he would do anything to get his daughter back. Maybe he should have employed more people then, it’s not as though he could not afford to. Miller decides to try and find the safest place for Chalmers to stay whilst they try to protect him or get his daughter back or whatever…

Outside, Pardon-Bloke’s team is moving in. Miller threatens Fox, telling him if anything happens to his team he will come for him. Fox is nonplussed, as well he might be. It turns out to be an empty threat. The team heads out to face Pardon-My-French’s henchmen. The henchmen stalk around the grounds and inside the warehouse, guns at the ready. 

The team hide around corners and in alcoves and begin stacking up the bodies. Outside, Lt. Colton (Tyler Jon Olson) radios the scouting team. He gets no response, them being somewhat dead and all. He relays to Pardoned-For-Bad-Acting that Chalmers seems to have a better team than they thought. Scowling happens. He comes up with a new approach. 

In the warehouse, Miller knows that there is a bigger attack coming. The soon to be deceased Harrison bleats about the money being too easy for it to have been such an easy job. Dash, who is a bit of a rat, says they should make a run for it. They already have the money. Miller, a principled man, says he cannot leave Chalmers and his daughter. Besides, they never run from a fight. Sounds a bit punchy. 

Eva is sent to the warehouse on her own. Fox goes out to get her. She asks him if her father is there? He tells her she was the only way to get him there. She thinks he is only there for project 725. Yeah, the film is still about that apparently. Pardon-The-Pun comes out of hiding and points a gun at Eva. He sees Miller. They are old enemies but he does not bear a grudge. 

Miller does bear a grudge. That damn Pardon-Fella shot him in the back. In the back! After Pardon-my-P-and-Q’s talks a lot of bollocks about his plan and mentions project 725, he takes Eva away, his henchmen and the sniper persuading Miller and Fox to retreat to the warehouse. 

The team confront Chalmers and Fox. What is project 725? It is an artificial intelligence program but not just any A. I program. It is a quantum A. I program. Okay. Completely clear then. Eva stole it – well, she created it – and gave it to Pardon-My-Unshaven-Appearance. She wanted to help the world. 

Outside, Eva is feeling like a fool. She thought a man whose first name is ‘The’ and surname ‘Pardoner’ was going to help her solve the world’s problems. Right. He wants to help the world, he tells her, in an egotistical monologue painting himself as a saint, that he wants to reset the world. 

Back in the warehouse, Dash has retrieved weapons from all the henchmen they killed. Miller worries about darkness falling. Unfortunately, after paying Bruce, they could not afford to shoot any night scenes and at no point do we see nighttime. 

The plan, if one can call it a plan, is to hide and pick off the henchmen. So, same as before then. Dash shoots a few from the window and, even though they can see the approach to the front door, one of the henchmen has enough time to blow torch through a lock into the warehouse. 

The fact that the building has multiple entrances and windows galore and, as Pardon-Guy alluded to earlier, is a security nightmare does not dissuade the henchmen from coming through the entrance that is most likely to get them shot. In they come and the bodies fall. Colton is not happy. He asks Pardon-But-I-Don’t-Mean-To-Be-Rude if he is sure about the plan. 

Preacher-Pardon asks him if he is doubting the cause. Colton says he is not but they are losing men. Pardon-The-Lie tells him that he feels their pain. Well, that’s a lie. They’re dead. Anyway, he assures Colton he will not forget their sacrifice. Um, okay. He tells Colton to send more men to their deaths around the side entrances. Colton, the worse leader ever, complies. 

Colton leads a team into one of the rooms in the warehouse. Pardon-My-BS brings Eva and another bunch of targets into the warehouse. In the room, Miller and his team are hiding behind pillars. They have their guns trained on Pardon-Matey and his henchmen. Pardon-If-I-Speak threatens to kill Eva again and wants them to bring Chalmers to him. Eva elbows him in the stomach and runs. Miller’s team opens fire. 

They are all terrible shots and do not kill any of the henchmen before they begin to return fire. Colton’s crew come into the firefight and Harrison gets killed. Oops. Sasha gets mad and tries to shoot everyone with scant regard for her own safety. Dash pulls her out of the firing line. 

Fox gets wounded and Miller pulls him out of the firing line. Pardon-My-Backbone retreats with his henchmen. Chalmers hears the gunfire and leaves his safe room. Eva, who is running around the warehouse aimlessly, is about to get perforated by a couple of henchmen but is saved by her father. 

The team get the wounded Fox back to another room. He cannot help anymore and is bleeding badly. Unsurprisingly, Sasha wants him to die blaming him for getting Harrison killed. She then opens up the argument, making Miller and herself culpable in his death. 

Eva admits to her father that the whole situation is her fault. There really is a lot of guilt going around. They talk about family stuff and other bollocks that does not help the story at all. They hear footsteps. Chalmers gets Eva to hide and is captured by Pardon-I’m-Back. He knows he will not kill him as he needs him for project 725. 

Pardon-My-Mad plan has his henchmen bring in a massive amount of computer equipment as he pushes forward with his masterplan. He knows that Chalmers will not give him the codes and tells him so as he plays with a Rubik’s cube, to make him seem more interesting. It doesn’t work. The fact that it is already completed does not help either. 

He tells Chalmers that he is going to find Eva and torture her to get him to reveal the codes. Disappointingly, he did not follow that with a maniacal laugh. Eva continues to sneak around the warehouses, evading the henchmen. She does a terrible job and is spotted by a couple of them. She runs and hides but is found by Miller. 

The henchmen report back to Pardon-Sir-I’m-An-Idiot, who now has a tech wiz, Gemma (Jacquie Nguyen), has joined him. She is setting up the computers for project 725. Miller returns to the safe room with Eva. Eva tells the team that Pardon-The-Bad-Guy has her father and wants the codes but her father is strong. 

She goes on to bleat about the people she worked for wanting to make money from her invention. Pardon-My-Mad-Plan wants to use it to crash and erase every computer on earth and put everyone back to the Dark Ages. Told you it was convoluted. 

Eva wants them to help her stop him. Miller is up for it, he is the hero after all. Sasha wants to do it for her brother. Dash is in the room so….okay? Eva draws a plan of the warehouse layout from memory, she is a genius after all. The plan is to knock out the power so as they cannot power the….computers. That sounds more stupid the more I read it. 

They begin to execute their plan, shooting cameras on the way because Gemma has hacked into the CCTV feed and killing henchmen. Pardon-But-I-Know-You’re-Out-There comes over the tannoy system and tells Miller to give him Eva and he will let him live. Obviously, Miller does not do that and they carry on their mission. 

They get to the power room and pull the power. The computers go out. All of them. In every other film, the tech expert has a battery-powered laptop. Not in this one. Electricity goes out, everything is out. The warehouse is plunged into darkness. Well, not really. Remember I said they could not afford a night shoot? 

Miller and Sasha sneak around in the daylight – pretend night – lit warehouse, wearing night-vision goggles and shooting henchmen. Dash, who has cat vision and doesn’t need night vision goggles it seems, throws a grenade at a couple of henchmen. 

The team come together. Miller says they need to get Chalmers. Dash has a different idea, he thinks they should sell project 725 on the black market. He grabs Eva, taking her hostage. He takes her to go and find Pardon-Have-You-Seen-My-Codes. Sasha and Miller follow after him. They all run into Pardon-The-Poop-Head and more henchmen.

After a brief exchange of gunfire, Dash tries to make a deal with Pardon-Still-A-Bad-Guy and gets shot for his troubles. Eva is captured once again. Miller and Sasha return fire and kill most of the henchmen. Sasha gets winged by a bullet as she goes to Dash. Dash dies. Sasha, hard as nails, barely reacts to getting shot. 

Eva is dragged back to the computer room and plonked next to her father. Pardon-My-Ego bores them both of them stupid with a philosophical allegory. He makes more threats about project 725 and getting the codes once the generator is on. Miller gets Sasha back to the safe room. He is going it alone now. She and Fox – he has not bled to death – are to escape while he distracts…everybody. 

Miller leaves the room and goes on a killing spree, taking out multiple henchmen with a hunting knife. He even manages to sneak on to the roof and take out the sniper. It really is his fault everyone is dead. They were slowing him down! 

Pardon-My-Masterplan has his computers back online. Gemma has trepidation about the plan to destroy all the world’s data. Pardon-My-Bullying-Attitude asks her if she wants to back out. She does not say anything. He leaves and goes to try and persuade Chalmers to give him the codes, threatening to kill Eva. 

Chalmers refuses. Pardon-My-Ungentlemanly-Conduct smashes Eva in the face. Chalmers still refuses. Gemma has project 725 up and running and wants to know what they are going to destroy first as it is partially operational. Pardon-My-Smugness cannot decide. He hears gunshots. Miller has killed all of his henchmen. 

Gemma, who is only in it for the money, decides that it is time to leave. Pardon-My-Huge-Ego goes to face Miller. They fight as Chalmers and Eva free themselves from the, frankly pathetic, restraints. They go to the computer and Chalmers tells Eva that they have to destroy the program. Miller and Pardon-Beardy-Not-Good are still fighting. 

Miller is winning but Pardon-Slimy-Git gets a gun and is about to shoot him. Chalmers shoots him dead. Miller goes and finds Sasha and Fox. They go for drinks. The end. 

Final thoughts: Wow. Hard Kill is awful. With a story by Clayton Haugen and Nikolai From and a screenplay by Chris Lamont and Joe Russo – not one of the Russo brothers, no – Hard Kill is a hard film to enjoy on any level. The story is rubbish, the acting not much better and the directing, by Matt Eskandari, is borderline experimental. 

There is no sense of urgency in the film and Rizzuto’s The Pardoner is such an underwhelming villain you know he is going to lose. His plan is ludicrous and pointless and madcap. Project 725 – which should probably have been the name of the film – is just a Mcguffin that you do not care about because it is never explained properly. 

The gunplay and action are mundane, with the faceless henchmen in the film just for a body count. At just over ninety-five minutes, Hard Kill is an hour and a half of your life that you will never get back. In this post-lockdown era, there have already been enough wasted hours. Give this film a miss.