The review of Out of the law, a film where the popular actor plays a primary role in the role of a policeman who tries to save a hiker from corrupt agents. Tonight on SKY.
The disease of Bruce Willis, aphasia, has come to light in recent times, driving the popular actor into forced retirement. A health condition that has influenced a large part of his recent career, in which the die harder par excellence has participated in dozens and dozens of uninspiring b-movies, a faded reminder of that glorious past.
Just because of all this makes an impression as in Out of the law, one of the last titles shot before abandoning the scene, Willis shot all his scenes in the space of a single day, having to memorize no less than twenty-five pages of dialogue: an enormous effort given his mental state, and which therefore makes it at least his performance – though not memorable – certainly worthy of appreciation. And besides, his presence is one of the few reasons of potential interest in an otherwise indefensible film …
At the bottom of the woods
The story begins with the character of Shannon, a young woman who has recently lost her father and to pay homage to him intends to take his ashes during an excursion in the woods, in order to honor his memory. Too bad that during her solitary pilgrimage he witnesses a drug exchange between a drug dealer and a policewoman, which takes an unexpected turn when the officer shoots the criminal. Shannon is discovered and from that moment becomes a target of the corrupt local law enforcement, ready to do anything to silence her and cover up their shady activities. Luckily for him, Jack Harris, a Philadelphia policeman who has been widowed for a few weeks and in search of peace to find himself and mourn, has just moved to those remote wooded areas. He himself will be decisive in saving Shannon, with whom he will then have to join forces to protect the people dear to him, who in turn have ended up in the crosshairs of the villains.
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A story that leaks
As you can already see from the plot exposed here, we are faced with an improbable and full of forcing script, which relies on the stupidity of the characters in the game to wearily drag on in the hour and a half of total duration. A series of increasingly bizarre and absurd situations, with often irrational behavior of the parties involved, which could have had a partial sense if a light and comical form had been adopted, but which clamorously ruins the tones and atmospheres chosen here.
Outside the law, in fact, it takes itself too seriously, with some tense and dramatic passages – including a death by exsanguination – which alternate in that single setting which is the backdrop to the events: the entire vision in fact takes place only in the forest, with a series of chases and daring melee of mediocre workmanship.
All already seen
The desaturated photography, an underwhelming supporting cast – the only one Jaime King (we mention it among others in Sin City e Pearl Harbor) is saved – an almost indifferent musical sector and a cheesy direction, never capable of fully exploiting the context and the various genre jolts, make for a bleak overall picture, between useless twists and turns that also require flashback-explanations to close the circle in a roughly consistent manner. You never feel that slightest transport for the fate of the protagonists and the epilogue was already written from the start, in a story that follows all the clichés of the classic themed b-movies without a minimum of originality capable of leaving even a tiny sign. Director Mike Burns will re-team a few months later with Willis on the detective story Wrong Place (2022), with the same results…
A beautiful but careless hiker (in)voluntarily witnesses a drug exchange between a criminal and a policewoman, which ends in tragedy with the dealer’s killing. On the run from the local police, who ran drug trafficking in the area, she finds unexpected help in a retired policeman, widowed and just moved to that wooded area. Out of the law is one of the last films starring Bruce Willis, which remains the only reason of interest for fans in an otherwise ramshackle and improbable operation, badly directed and equally badly interpreted by the supporting cast. Ridiculous situations, absent tension and phoned twists for an hour and a half of vision to forget.
Because we like it
- The commitment of Bruce Willis, in a more substantial role than in other recent productions, is admirable given his already compromised health conditions.
- A screenplay full of forcing and improbability, moreover predictable in the resolution of key events.
- A direction without nerve and a cast of supporting actors not up to par.
- The only setting means that for most of the film we witness a long series of daring chases in the forest.