While his box office glory days may be fading, Bruce Willis’ steely persona continues to endure onscreen. Alongside a few assured dramatic performances (Glass and Looper), the Die Hard action star continues to gun down foes on the big and small screen alike. His latest low-budget sci-fi/action hybrid Breach packs some self-aware charms, but this by-the-numbers Alien clone never elevates its disposable roots.
Breach follows a well-traveled mechanic (Bruce Willis) who maintains an interstellar ark fleeing the dying planet. Unfortunately, humans are not the only passengers on board. A shapeshifting alien creature takes residence, infesting the last vessels of humanity in the process. The crew must think quickly to stop this menace before it destroys mankind.
Some elements of Breach are well-tuned to the film’s makeshift B-movie frequency. Bruce Willis delivers one of his most affable performances of late, livening his grizzly bear presence with some deadpan comedic frames (his character spends most of the movie drinking moonshine while bad-mouthing his alien foes). There’s an endearing “I don’t care” energy that fits his jaded character like a glove. Few spew corny machismo lines with Willis’ sternly charismatic touch, often elevating the standard-issue material on the page. Thomas Jane also indulges in his character’s campy roots, having a blast as an over-eager military admiral.
Breach reaches agreeable competence for its inherently midnight-movie form, but there are few areas where the film truly excels. Director John Suits’ familiarity with genre machinations doesn’t serve his noticeably cheap production values well. The Xbox 360-level visual effects are clumsily drawn onscreen (the aliens are more humorous than scary), while Suits’ flat visceral eye fails to imbue any creative flourishes to overcome the cheapness. There’s some potential in Suit’s semi self-aware approach (the practical alien/zombie effects are cheekily crafted), though the wishy-washy tone never finds a consistent voice.
When the sturdy veterans aren’t onscreen, Breach struggles to stay afloat. Screenwriters Corey Large and Edward Drake underserve the cast with blandly-flavored stereotypes. Up-and-comer Cody Kearsley’s wet blanket protagonist rarely brings enough energy to leave an impression onscreen, while Rachel Nichols has little to do in her thanklessly truncated role. Similar to the uninteresting characters, Large and Drake don’t know how to re-spin the film’s formulaic conventions. You can sense a few earnest attempts to pay tribute to its genre forefathers, but they are done with little understanding of what made those predecessors so enthralling.
Breach does little to stretch above typical Sci-fi channel fare. I wasn’t entirely disinterested by this campy throwback, but its runtime flies by to mostly disposable results.
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