The concept of VICE, an action/scifi flick that, if you believe the movie poster, stars Ambyr Childers, Thomas Jane, and Bruce Willis, is an interesting one. Bruce Willis owns a resort that bears a striking resemblance to a place I visited in the Dominican Republic, except unlike said real life resort, living patrons can do whatever the hell they want to “artificials,” which are presented at first as some sort of genetically-modified android something that still has human emotions. It isn’t something that hasn’t been touched on in the past in any number of movies, and it’s a little amusing that Bruce Willis is the brain behind this lecherous land of moral ambiguity considering his part in Surrogates.
Still, the film starts to bring up the question of what makes a person human. The film has a lot of potential in this area. There are conversations between the “doctors” (who are actually engineers) that fix the artificials when they’ve been shot or strangled or stabbed by someone who just felt like going on a killing spree to see what it feels like which bring up questions about the artificials actually being conscious during operations, a phenomenon we sometimes hear about in current medicine.
And of course, there is the Rogue Cop. The Rogue Cop is convinced that what happens inside Vice (apparently Bruce Willis wasn’t feeling very creative when naming his resort) actually spills out into the real world. The people who run Vice claim that it works as an outlet; people can come in, blow off steam in a “harmless” fashion, and go back out into the world as more well-adjusted people. The Rogue Cop thinks that Vice gives people who are predisposed to commit crimes the chance to try them out and that once they’ve had a taste of said crimes, they’re more likely to go for the real thing in his city (because for the Rogue Cop, this is HIS CITY).
It’s a little like some of the arguments presented for and against pornography or strip clubs.
So we’ve already got a ton of really interesting questions lined up, and we’re maybe fifteen minutes into the film. Good, right?
Unfortunately, that’s about where it stops. They make some vague comments that sort of hint toward maybe how they might have developed this technology and that the artificials are probably more human than the people interacting with them at the Vice resort realize. There’s something about brain chips, something involving cloning, and also a mention that artificial intelligence has been universally banned….except in the Vice resort. Because AI is totally scary and going to kill us all…unless we put it in a contained area a let people go all Hostel on it. Then we’ll all be safe.
So from that point on, as you can predict, one of the artificials gets loose, Bruce Willis freaks out and sends fifty thousand armed soldiers that he just has standing around at the Vice resort because he’s Bruce Willis, and Rogue Cop starts chasing after the artificial because he’s convinced something evil is going down at Vice, Inc. Guns fire, stuff goes boom, people do really dumb things, and nobody bothers to address any of the above questions at all. In fact, when the artificial decides to help Rogue Cop take down Vice instead of running away to live like a sane robot-person, it doesn’t involve the legal system at all. It involves hackers, a virus on a thumb drive, more automatic weapons, so much smoke that I’m not entirely sure what happened in a few shots (which is strange since nothing was set on fire), and, I kid you not, a scene that could have been an actual live reenactment of the Futurama episode where Bender goes on a quest for free will.
Nothing is solved, Rogue Cop just kills EVERYBODY, and I guess they only had enough money to rent Bruce Willis for a week and a photo shoot to stick him on to movie poster. There. I saved you two hours of your life or gave you something hilarious to watch. You are welcome.