One of the endearing traits of the minions is the way that thousands of them pile-on when they see a good thing; it mirrors one of the phenomena of the internet age that makes sheep of us all. So in retrospect, I’m glad that I skipped the pile-on of negativity that’s surrounded the career choices of Bruce Willis over the last few years. From Moonlighting onwards, Willis has always been a cherished performer, a great star (Die Hard, Pulp Fiction) who could act (Unbreakable) and even sing (The Return of Bruno); he’s made several comebacks (Looper), but sadly it looks like there won’t be a ‘return to form’ swan-song; his last few features before retirement due to aphasia are ‘straight to streaming’ fodder.
Fortress: Sniper’s Eye is a sequel to Fortress and appears to be the middle section of an on-going trilogy; Willis is a featured player rather than the star here, and the game seems to be to spread out enough footage of Willis shot for a feature to cover the requirements of a trilogy. Sniper’s Eye is set in some kind of techno-future, and sees special-ops soldier Robert (Willis) rescuing Sasha (Natali Yura) from the forces of evil, taking a bullet in the process. This means that Willis is largely missing in action as the low-wattage drama unfolds, since he’s confined to a hospital bed. A showdown with Balthary (Chad Michael Murray) is on the cards, but not before a series of minor issues are resolved between the supporting cast. Jesse Metcalfe from Chesapeake Shores is in here too.
‘Life can only be understood backwards, but has to be lived forwards,’ is one of Robert’s more reflective lines, but there’s little sign of the everyman swagger that have made Willis a world-beating star, although his dialogue is notably punched up above the rest of the cast. The other chat sounds like it’s been through google translate in Josh Sternfield’s film, although the line ‘I’m serious as a heart’ has a certain accidental Raymond Carver-esque feel. Emile Hirsh is somehow amongst those responsible for the story.
Business is business, and the makers of the Fortress films presumably made Willis an offer that he couldn’t refuse; the decline of his creative powers due to illness is hardly reason for jokes or merriment. For now, it’s a small relief just to see that Willis can just about talk the talk and walk the walk, even in a diminished B-movie role like the ones that the Fortress saga can offer.
Signature Entertainment presents Fortress: Sniper’s Eye on Digital Platforms 11th July and DVD 18th July