Combustible Celluloid
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With: Chad Michael Murray, Bruce Willis, Swen Temmel, Michael Sirow, Kate Katzman, Sean Kanan, Simon Phillips, Zack Ward, Adam Huel Potter, Donna D'Errico, Jose S. Vázquez, Kristos Andrews, Ronal Tejada, Jonathan González, Ramon Vázquez, Yulia Klass, Felix Cortes, Canyon Prince, Daniel Salinas, Sarah Roemer
Written by: Ross Peacock
Directed by: James Cullen Bressack
MPAA Rating: R for violence, and language throughout
Running Time: 97
Date: 10/08/2021

Survive the Game (2021)

1/2 Star (out of 4)

Farm Offensive

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Illogical, poorly acted, poorly shot, and without a single good idea, this ridiculous, awful action movie is yet another in a string of terrible Bruce Willis efforts, but maybe even worse than usual.

Two cops, Cal (Swen Temmel) and David (Bruce Willis) are staking out a drug deal. Cal impulsively decides to move in; a shootout follows, and David is shot. Two of the dealers — romantic partners Mickey (Zack Ward) and Violet (Kate Katzman) — try to escape, pursued by Cal, and they all end up on a remote farm. The farmer is Eric (Chad Michael Murray), who has recently lost his wife and child in a car accident.

Eric and Cal escape from Mickey and Violet and take to the expansive farmland to hide. More drug dealers arrive, led by the snaky Frank (Michael Sirow), who has captured the wounded David. He sends out his hired gunmen to find Cal and Eric. Meanwhile, David's old nemesis, the head of the entire operation, is also on the way to the farm.

Survive the Game — not to be confused with Willis's other, terrible movie Survive the Night — starts badly, with our two cops rashly, stupidly charging in on a drug deal, simply because Willis's character has been "chasing this guy forever" and it's time to try something else. One of them actually, accidentally knocks over a terracotta flower pot and draws the villains' attention. Rather than remaining behind cover, Willis's character stands out in the open, and that's, unsurprisingly, how he gets shot. Never fear, though. Despite his bleeding stomach wound, he'll be up and about for the movie's final showdown.

Presumably the filmmakers thought they could whip up a sort of Die Hard on a farm, but they're so far off the mark that they couldn't even provide a reason for everyone to be on a farm. The cat-and-mouse stuff in Survive the Game happens more or less at random, with characters poking around various locations and jumping out at each other. And for some reason, one character, Kate Katzman's Violet is dressed up as, and acts like, Harley Quinn. (Maybe the filmmakers are hoping to attract superhero fans to the movie?)

There's even a slow, boring car chase as characters jump in their cars and drive around around the farm in circles. Only Sean Kanan (The Karate Kid Part III) has a single inspired moment as his hired gun character wonders why he didn't listen to his mama and go to law school.

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