Saturday, November 20, 2021

Apex Review: Bruce Willis Battle Royale With Cheese

Release date: November 12, 2021
Running time: 93 minutes
Directed By: Edward Drake
Written By: Edward Drake and Corey Large
Starring: Neal McDonough (“Yellowstone,” Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City), Bruce Willis (Die Hard, The Sixth Sense), Lochlyn Munro (“Riverdale”), Megan Peta Hill (Open Water 3) and Trevor Gretzky (Spiral)

Serving a life sentence for a crime he didn’t commit, ex-cop Thomas Malone (Willis) is offered a chance at freedom if he can survive a deadly game of Apex. Six hunters pay for the pleasure of hunting another human on a remote island, but once Malone arrives all hell breaks loose. Laying traps and playing mind games, Malone tries to turn the tables and fight for his life and his future.

Apex really does feel like a video game, and I wondered if the battle royale inspired Apex Legends wasn't partly responsible for this movie.  The film has over the top weapons, mysterious, aggressive characters, and enough tech here and there to feel like it was plucked out of your favorite console.  The film also has a nice combination of low tech and high tech; there are definitely high tech devices like teleporters, holographic communication, and others, but most of the movie takes place in the forest so the indie film doesn't need to overexert its budget.  But despite the indie nature of this, the cast of Apex is impressive.  I really liked seeing them in this film, and especially liked that Bruce Willis had a more substantial role than I expected for a big star.  

And the film builds slowly, with plenty of fun bravado from the contestants and a steady stream of deaths and accidents along the way.  These characters expire with a combination of poor choices and quick gun battles, though there are some larger encounters later on.  And despite the indie nature of the film, the action is enjoyable and consistently feels like it is punching above its weight class.

However, despite the fun build up, the movie does kind of go off the rails after the start.  What begins as a careful, measured hunt turns into a free for all at the end.  And despite the movie generally having good effects, there are some instances that look low budget.  Not enough to really break your disbelief, but there is enough that just looks off that you notice it.  But that being said, Apex is just a lot of fun.  It is a ridiculous setup with a good cast and an enjoyable role for Bruce Willis to be in.  And like any good video game, there are several Easter Eggs for eagle-eyed viewers to notice. 

Apex has a smart use of technology and a great cast, using both to create a bizarre, gory, and overall fun battle royale. 

Watch it.

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Apex is available in theaters, digitally, and on demand on November 12, 2021.  

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