I have to admit that I was pretty critical of Bruce Willis' film choices lately. Of course, knowing now that the actor is suffering from aphasia, it's hard to pass judgment on the otherwise venerable action star.
I loved Willis ever since he first uttered those famous Yippie Kiyay words. No, check that, I loved him on Moonlighting and my appreciation only grew when he came to define a modern-day action hero in the late 1980s and 1990s.
There was a particular period of time when he epitomized what a Hollywood A-list was and we were the to lap it up. Sadly, time tarnishes everything and the crown started to slip for me during the run-up to Cop Out. Bruce was mortal and it hurt.
His recent diagnosis is sad, no doubt, but it helps to make sense of his roles in recent years. What I initially thought was a series of cash grabs during the pandemic was suddenly reframed under the guise of his disorder. He wasn't merely phoning it in, he was suffering and there are still upwards of a half dozen more Bruce Willis in the pipeline waiting to see the light of day before his retirement becomes official.
One of these films in this week's Fortress: Sniper's Eye and I wish I could say that it was better than his recent work, but it's just not.
Starring Bruce Willis (PULP FICTION), this action cyber-thriller continues the adventure begun in THE FORTRESS. Weeks after a deadly assault on Fortress Camp, Robert (Bruce Willis) makes a daring rescue to save Sasha, the widow of his old nemesis, Balzary (Chad Michael Murray, "One Tree Hill"). But back in the camp's command bunker, it appears Sasha may have devious plans of her own, and as a new attack breaks out, Robert is confronted with a familiar face he thought he'd never see again.
A sequel to last year's Fortress, Fortress: Sniper's Eye is pretty much the opposite in every way of what a good sequel should be. If Empire Strikes Back is on one end of the sequel spectrum, then Fortress: Sniper's Eye is its counter on the other side.
Yes, it really is that bad.
Removing everything surrounding Bruce Willis (who, thankfully, doesn't have much screen time), Fortress: Sniper's Eye comes off more like some additional footage you'd find on a director's cut of the original movie than a fully-realized sequel.
For instance, the first third of the movie, save for pretty much the only Bruce Willis action sequence to open the film is almost all flashback to Fortress. So, if you haven't watched the first movie, you're in luck. As for the rest of us, we get to suffer through the bad dialog and weirdness again.
That said, Fortress: Sniper's Eye makes the original film look like Citizen Kane by comparison. The action is slow and clunky and most of it happens off-screen at times which is very frustrating for a supposed action movie.
Given the pandemic age we just went through, Fortress: Sniper's Eye should be better. There were plenty of bad films that came out over the last couple of years to make up for the disruption in production caused by COVID-19, and given the talent involved it should have been better.
Allegedly, Fortress: Sniper's Eye is the middle film of a planned trilogy, but I really can't see them making the third movie. Of course, if it's anything like this one, they can simply use flashbacks and slap on a new ending and call it a day.
Sigh, this hurts because I really want to love Bruce's final films, but it's becoming clear that he was taken advantage of due to his condition. I'm not sure if it's the fact that his diagnosis has become public or that it's more noticeable in this film, but it's clear that Bruce Willis isn't the same actor that he once was and I really wish we could simply remember him for his past and not for what's to come.
Fortress: Sniper's Eye is now available on Blu-ray and DVD.