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Vice (Blu-ray Review)

VICE Julian Michaels (Bruce Willis) has designed the ultimate resort: VICE, where anything goes, and the customers can play out their wildest fantasies with artificial inhabitants who look, think, and feel like humans. When an artificial (Ambyr Childers) becomes self-aware and escapes, she finds herself caught in the crossfire between Julian’s mercenaries and a cop (Thomas Jane) who is hell-bent on shutting down VICE, and stopping the violence once and for all.  

Vice

Film 

Vice is the name of a resort where you can do anything to anyone. It’s a living, breathing, simulation where your most inner most depravity can come out and play. You can kill, rape, and destroy with absolutely zero consequences. Of course when you get back to the real world you develop a slight psychosis and the lines of reality begin to blur. The city of Vice is populated with artificial beings – cyborgs whose memory is wiped out after each day is through.

Kelly (Ambyr Childers) is one of these cyborgs and Julian Michaels (Bruce Willis) is the creator of VICE.  Roy (Thomas Jane) is a cop who wants to put an end to the world of Vice but can’t due to the fact that the laws of the real world do not apply in the world of Vice. Roy has to basically wait for someone to go to Vice, kill or maim someone, what until the person has returned, commit a crime in his world and then pounce on the criminal. It’s a bit inefficient and it’s filled with lots of legal red tape.

On the surface Vice is actually quite interesting but it really suffers in its execution. This is Bruce Willis’ twentieth most recent (direct to video) performance and his dazed smirk-face has really grown tiresome. Sure he’s here to collect a fat check but the fact that the film is being sold on his name alone one would think that he could bring his game to it to make the film seem passable. No, it’s left to Thomas Jane, who I think is cool, to pick up the slack. Ambyr Childers also does great in her thankless role of a cyborg with a soul.

Another thing that was quite bothersome was that the action moved at a brisk pace but the security squads that monitor Vice city have some of the worst aim I’ve seen in recent memory. It was like I was watching the original A-Team series but in their defense the original A-Team never killed anyone on purpose. These guys feel like they came from a Call of Duty game and are lagging. They literally miss at point blank range. I can suspend my disbelief only so much.

Vice could have been soothing special with a better script and some inspired direction and maybe someone else as Julian. What we get here is a mish-mash of ideas that could have been awesomely realized on film. Instead we get scraps of scraps. Oh, and Thomas Jane is the best part of the film, so if you’re a fan then there’s that.

Vice

Video 

Encoding: AVC/MPEG-4

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1

Clarity/Detail: Contrast and sharpness levels stayed consistent throughout and I did not notice any intrusive post-production tinkering. Vice on Blu-ray looks pretty damn good.

Depth: Vice has a pretty slick sheen to it. It’s the near future, so everything has a cold and slick to it. The Blu-ray plays this up quite nicely – it makes one feel like they’re part of the environment.

Black Levels: Black levels were deep and inky and crush free.

Color Reproduction: The color palette was surprisingly warm due to some of the AI robots actually being mistaken for real people. They would have to look natural. Some of the scenes at the resorts also had a very tropical look to them while scenes in labs seemed cold, with a steel layer to them.

Flesh Tones: Everyone looked nice and healthy – even the artificial beings.

Noise/Artifacts: This is a clean digital file (shot on film) and it was free of noise and artifacts.

 

Vice

Audio 

Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD MA 5.1

Subtitles: English, English SDH, Spanish

Dynamics: Vice is an action packed film and the lossless soundtrack amps up the danger and really punches it into over drive. It’s a quite active Blu-ray in terms of sound quality. There is only a moment or two of stillness before the action scenes starts up again.

Low Frequency Extension: The LFE channel lent some low-end rumble to the film – explosions and heavy weapon blasts all benefited by some serious subwoofer action.

Surround Sound Presentation: The surround sound field will have you ducking for cover as the bullets, glass shards, debris, etc., pummel at your head during the various shootouts. The rear channels were quite impressive.

Dialogue Reproduction: The silly dialogue sounds great in lossless high definition audio.

 

Vice

Extras 

Vice comes loaded up with a director and cast commentary. It’s decent but a bit self-serving since they’re pretty much saving face on what an awful project Vice is. What are you going to do, right? A behind the scenes featurette is also included and so are some cast and crew interviews that use the same footage back and forth from the previous featurette. It’s redundant as hell. A trailer gallery is also included and everything is presented in high definition.

  • Commentary with Director Brian A. Miller and Actors Ambyr Childers and Bryan Greenberg
  • Behind the Scenes of Vice
  • Interviews with Cast and Crew
  • Vice Trailer

 

Vice

 

Summary  

I’m sure Vice had its head in the right place on the page. It’s too bad that the final execution just squanders what could have been a great film into a REALLY bad one. I give benefit of the doubt to budget constraints and the script being tweaked along the way. I like Thomas Jane but Bruce Willis is getting on my nerves. I don’t think he’s really done anything worthy of note since Looper. Enough with the coasting and let’s get back to business. Vice on Blu-ray has good video, audio, and slightly average extras. Unfortunately for the film that’s the only good contained within the shiny confines of the Blu-ray disc. Skip it.

 

Vice was released on Blu-ray & DVD March 17th.

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VICE

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Gerard Iribe is a writer/reviewer for Why So Blu?. He has also reviewed for other sites like DVD Talk, Project-Blu, and CHUD, but Why So Blu? is where the heart is. You can follow his incoherency on Twitter: @giribe

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