– Summary –
Director : Brian A Miller
Year Of Release : 2014
Principal Cast : Bruce Willis, John Cusack, Rain, Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, Jessica Lowndes, Jason Patric, Jonathan Schaech, Jesse Pruett, Gia Mantegna, Courtney Turk, Jay Oringer.
Approx Running Time : 90 Minutes
Synopsis: A retired New Orleans crime boss (and widowed father) is forced to team up with his best friend to return to the crime world when his daughter is kidnapped by an old rival.
What we think : New Orleans-based pot-boiler is intense, but meanders. Kinda like a low-brow Taken, mixed with a hint of Goodfellas, The Prince offers a lot to audiences but delivers relatively little. All style and no substance, this film isn’t as good as it seems to think it is. For a lazy-day run-n-gun, there’s better elsewhere.
The Fresh Prince of Dead Air.
The American obsession with crime and the morality and nobility of the Bad Guy continues apace with The Prince, a semi-competent thriller featuring a square-jawed-but-flummoxed Jason Patric, a bored-looking’ Bruce Willis, and a creepy-as-hell John Cusack. Set in New Orleans, The Prince is essentially a rundown and rescue flick, tinged with revenge, mixed with some slight buddy-comedy schtick between Cusack and Patric; it follows the basic codes of the genre, adds in some violence, vague sexualisation of a teenager, and a bunch of people who can’t shoot for shit. In short, The Prince is a dead-on cracker for the film it is, but offers nothing new whatsoever to audiences clamoring for some new or exciting action dynamic.
A Mississippi mechanic, Paul (Jason Patric) learns that his daughter Beth (Gia Mantegna) has absconded to New Orleans and hooked up with a drug dealer known as The Pharmacy (Curtis Jackson). Desperate to locate her, he teams up with her friend Angela (Jessica Lowndes) and travels to Orleans, where he runs into a bunch of old acquaintances – a rival mob boss, Omar (Bruce Willis), seeks revenge on him for the killing of his wife and daughter in a car bombing, and send all manner of goons his way. Known by his former alias “The Prince”, the mechanic takes on Omar’s forces as he faces a showdown with his former rival.
About midway through this film, Jason Patric’s character – a former mob boss and all-round dangerous person – hot-wires a car, using the old “connect the red and blue wires” technique, and it struck me that The Prince is about as generic, as riven from the genre archetype mold, as it’s possible to get. Sure, superficially it’s got style to burn, and builds up the premise well through a great visual aesthetic and some tough-talkin’ chisel-jawing, but deep down there’s not much new here that you haven’t already seen. The Prince’s layers of pursuit, as Patric chases down his daughter from abduction, standardizes the tough-guy take-down as well as you’d expect, although for emotional heft and raw thrills, it doesn’t really hit the mark.
The film’s key problem is Brian Miller’s schizophrenic direction. In terms of style, there’s plenty here, and most of the action scenes have a certain frisson of energy throughout, a rough and raw style that feels cold and calculating. In its slower, plot-driven moments, the film grinds to a badly-acted halt, as Jason Patric’s soulful determination tries in vain to carry the weight of a film which should, by rights, be pulsating with energy. Patric isn’t the greatest action hero actor, but kudos to him as he gives it his all; much of his character’s essence is distilled not through the actor himself, but rather by the film’s constant insistence that he’s a dangerous man and a one-man army, given to us by everyone else. It’s this false bravado without proof – although the final climactic shoot-out is supposed to represent the release of this expectation of Paul’s skill, it ends up being a generic, blase, largely inept action sequence that has no emotional space whatsoever – that hamstrings the film entirely. A key laugh-out-loud moment comes with a two car chase between Paul and some of Omar’s henchmen, which looks like it was filmed over the same stretch of industrial suburb backlot and hacked together last-minute in the editing bay. The fact that the two cars appear to be moving slower than Paris Hilton at a subtlety class actually made me chuckle, and that’s even before you consider the ludicrous editing decisions made here.
The script is teeming with tough talk, a bunch of square-jawed attitude from all corners that might pass for quality screenwriting if it wasn’t so overly serious. Patric is forced to deliver some fairly tongue-twisting back-story through voice-over, while John Cusack’s speech about Hadrian’s Wall is a high point (although this isn’t saying a lot), but the overall feeling of The Prince’s screenplay is just generic, generic, generic. There’s no real spice here, no last-minute twist for the hero to overcome, no backstabbing traitor or sudden injury or monumental odds to keep the audience guessing as to the outcome of this movie. No, for all it’s build-up and sense of occasion towards Paul’s mission to save his girl, The Prince is stock-standard tough guy mediocrity.
The Prince is a generic, shoot-em-up flick that has low self esteem and a clumsy sense of direction from Brian Miller. Although it certainly looks great (some dynamite DP work from Yaron Levy) and the stunt work is all first rate, the borderline join-the-dots script and hokey, seen-it-before characters, as well as Jason Patric trying to channel Jason Statham’s machismo (and failing), The Prince is commendably bland, and generically indifferent. Yeah, it will keep the beer-boys happy, but folks looking for something fresh or exciting should probably look elsewhere.
© 2014, Rodney Twelftree. All rights reserved.