by George Wolf
Until the recent news that Bruce Willis had sold his “likeness” for use in future projects, Paradise City was once targeted as his final film before the retirement brought on by aphasia.
It seemed like a good plan. Reunite him with John Travolta, add the talents of Stephen Dorff, and Bruce could bow out with a respectable crime thriller.
Turns out, they should have saved Gasoline Alley for last.
Paradise City lands as another cookie cutter production from Edward Drake, Corey Large and Chuck Russell, surrounding solid work by the three leads with a litany of dreadful supporting performances and careless construction.
Willis is bounty hunter Ian Swan, who goes missing in Maui after finally confronting the $10 million fugitive he’s been tracking for years. Ian’s son Ryan (Blake Jenner) wants in on the family business, so he travels to Hawaii where he teams with Ian’s old partner Robby (Dorff) and a Maui cop named Savannah (Praya Lundberg) to take up the mystery of what happened to his old man.
And odds are it has something to do with Buckley (Travolta), a local big wig who’s buying off all the Maui politicians for the rights to strip mine all over the island.
Explosions. Shoot ’em ups. Bikinis. Embarrassing fight choreography. Unsurprising surprises.
Fattening this holiday turkey to feature length also requires a side trip to the village of Paradise City, where the natives are resisting Buckley’s bribes. Why don’t Ryan and Savannah use one of her endless supply of off days to try on some skimpy swimsuits and learn about Hawaiian culture?
And then…back to the bad guys.
Travolta mercifully tones down scenery chewing, Willis is game for what he’s asked to do and Dorff seems like Olivier next to most of the cast members he’s often saddled with.
Really, I can’t imagine what was going through Dorff’s head during some of his takes. He may as well be teaching a class for mannequins who just came to life that very day. But they’re so excited to be acting! Painful.
But they all probably had a great time in Maui.