Saturday, July 02, 2016


Mostly what I remember is the rain. MARAUDERS, the latest quick cash grab by jobbing used-to-be-a-star Bruce Willis, has perhaps the fakest fake rain I’ve ever seen in a movie. The sun is shining bright during every storm, the rain looks like the mist you see in the showers that keep people cool at the state fair, and you can get quickly hammered by doing a shot every time a character comes in from the pouring rain and is completely dry. Director Steven C. Miller (EXTRACTION, another Willis “who gives a shit” direct-to-video programmer) doesn’t care, Willis sure as hell doesn’t care, so why should we care?

Maybe because Christopher Meloni cares. The former LAW & ORDER: SPECIAL VICTIMS UNIT star, taking advantage of being cast as the main character in a movie, demonstrates confidence, charisma, intensity, and charm as FBI agent Jonathan Montgomery. It’s unlikely FBI supervisors toss F-bombs around the office as much as Montgomery does in MARAUDERS, but the tradeoff is Meloni having a good time and enlivening this routine crime drama, so I’ll take it. He even manages to not look silly listening to his dead wife’s voicemails and staring at full wine glasses to establish his character’s backstory, which the film frankly doesn’t need.

Montgomery heads up the investigation of a bank robbery performed with military precision by masked gunmen who mysteriously go out of their way to kill an employee (one of the film’s highlights is the creepy cool Kevlar masks the crooks wear). Assisted by Feds Stockwell (SPECTRE’s Dave Bautista, given more lines than he can handle), Chase (Lydia Hull in her fourth Willis movie in two years...I see where this is going), and rookie Wells (a miscast Vincent Chase Adrian Grenier), Montgomery remains a step or two behind the bad guys, who seem to be targeting banks owned by zillionnaire Jeffrey Hubert (Willis, who may have filmed all his scenes in the same building).

What begins as a fairly straightforward crime meller eventually spins out of control under the pens of screenwriters Michael Cody and Chris Sivertson (director of the disastrous Lindsay-Lohan-and-her-evil-stripper-twin movie I KNOW WHO KILLED ME). The plot becomes more complicated than Miller can keep up with and leads to an impossibly dumb climax set in a Mexican cantina that appears to be an alley behind the building where Willis filmed his other scenes. Johnathon Schaech (ROAD HOUSE 2) co-stars as a corrupt Cincinnati cop with a terminally ill wife, whose scenes together lead nowhere.

Unusual for being set in Cincinnati, Ohio, though aside from a cameo by Great American Ball Park, MARAUDER could have been filmed anywhere, as all we see are nondescript streets, alleys, and office buildings. Meloni is as colorful as Cincinnati is drab (at least in this film), and Bautista and Hull handle their thin characters well enough. The actors playing bit parts are terrible (the blonde playing the bank president’s widow should have her SAG card burned), and Bruce Willis is the Bruce Willis of late, not the Willis of MOONLIGHTING and DIE HARD. His natural hair, at least what’s left of it, looks ten times better than his shaved look, but that’s the highlight of Willis’ performance, which couldn’t be more obviously bored if he had pulled out a paperback to read during takes.

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