I don’t pretend to understand the economics that have led Bruce Willis to make such a string of dreadful, forgettable movies in the latter part of his career. Without deliberately meaning to, I seem to have avoided most everything he’s done since 2012, when he hit the trifecta of Looper, Moonrise Kingdom, and The Expendables 2. So sitting down to check out his latest, Cosmic Sin, was a bit of an eye-opening shocker. Willis has long been accused of seeming sleepy, but I think that’s just his laid-back persona that has long made him a chill counterpart to peers like Schwarzenegger and Stallone. In this new film, he seems disinterested and lethargic despite being strapped into a souped-up space suit, often carrying massive weaponry of some sort and playing a retired military general who was forced out years earlier for using something called a Q-bomb that wiped out the population of a planet (or part of it).
From director/co-writer Edward Drake (Broil), Cosmic Sin starts out promisingly enough. Set in the year 2524, the film exists in a time when humans have been colonizing other planets for about 400 years, though it isn’t until now that a small group of colonists makes first contact with an alien species that parasitically takes over their bodies and makes them a destructive weapon in the species’ efforts to invade Earth and kill or take over the population. The military force in charge of protecting the earth, called The Alliance, puts together a team under the command of General Eron Ryle (Frank Grillo) to use a quantum wormhole to jump across space in a matter of seconds and fight the aliens before they do the same and attack Earth.
James Ford (Willis) is brought out of retirement, bringing his former second-in-command and current drinking buddy Dash (Corey Large) along for the ride, along with a few other soldiers. They include Ryle’s trigger-happy son Braxton (Brandon Thomas Lee), Q-bomb expert Juda Saule (Eva De Dominici), and old-school fighter Marcus Black (Costas Mandylor). Also along for the journey is Ford’s ex-wife and scientist Dr. Lea Goss (Perrey Reeves). Once they arrive on the planet, they find a group of survivors fighting against the swarm of largely unseen aliens, led by Sol Cantos (played by wrestler C.J. Perry). If most of these actors’ names aren’t ringing a bell, join the club.
Cosmic Sin doesn’t take long to turn itself from a sci-fi action adventure story into a movie with a whole lot of talking about interstellar warring. Clearly made on a budget, the film feels cheap and somehow both overwritten and underwritten. The fancy and clunky space suits look surprisingly similar to the quantum time travel suits from Avengers: Endgame, which doesn’t mean they don’t look cool; they just look familiar too. But it’s the lack of aliens in a movie supposedly about an alien armada about to attack Earth that strikes you first. Then you start to notice how dark everything is and how the darkness is used to hide the better-than-you’d-expect special effects that are still pretty weak. Then you notice that Frank Grillo gets billing over Bruce Willis, even though Willis carries the film (as much as a man in a walking coma can), while Grillo vanishes for two-thirds of the movie, only to show up right when the screenplay requires him to save the day.
Of course, it would be lunacy to expect anything great to come from this combination of acting and budgetary elements, but I was holding out for something competent and sensical. I lost complete track of what was going on in Cosmic Sin at around he halfway mark, and I couldn’t muster the energy to try and get caught up or decipher who was who, what weapon was doing what to where, or how anything on this crazy future worked. Sometimes, low-budget sci-fi can be charming (use the other film I review this week as a great example of that), but for some reason watching this movie made me feel bad. Worse, it made me feel guilty for ignoring Willis for so long and letting him break down so badly. This movie is abysmal and not in a fun, watchable way.
The film is now available in select theaters and via VOD. Please follow CDC, health department and venue guidelines if attending indoor screenings.
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