Combustible Celluloid
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With: Vince Vaughn, Hailee Steinfeld, Jon Favreau, Jonathan Banks, Taraji P. Henson, Bill Paxton, Annabeth Gish, Terrence Howard, Cécile De France, William Levy, Jordi Molla, Shea Whigham, Mike Epps
Written by: Andy Lieberman, based on a graphic novel by Nick Thornborrow
Directed by: Peter Billingsley
MPAA Rating: R for violence, and language including a sexual reference
Running Time: 93
Date: 04/29/2016

Term Life (2016)

1 Star (out of 4)

The Worst Policy

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

This labored, failed thriller feels like a collection of odd puzzle pieces that don't fit, but have been nonetheless forced together. Even the great cast members seem squeezed into the wrong roles. Vince Vaughn, in a strangely awful haircut, is denied a sense of humor. He Hailee Steinfeld can't generate any kind of father-daughter bond, and even a reunion between Swingers Vaughn and Jon Favreau passes by cluelessly.

Nick Barrow (Vaughn) is a criminal who works designing heists and selling them for others to pull off. Unfortunately, his latest job, was taken on by a notorious drug dealer's son; there was a double-cross, the son is killed, and Nick gets the blame. The drug lord (Jordi Molla) quickly zeroes in on Nick's estranged daughter, Cate (Steinfeld) as a way to settle the score. So Nick kidnaps Cate and goes into hiding while cooking up a plan. To make matters worse, the heist also involved a crooked cop (Bill Paxton), who is also gunning for Nick. It will take everything Nick has to survive this mess.

Paxton is stuck in a role that requires him to scowl all the time, and is far below his level of intelligence. Characters appear and disappear in a strangely random fashion, very little makes sense, and the action is confusing. (The title refers to an insurance policy that is purchased and subsequently forgotten.) If Term Life was supposed to provide thrills, or at least some interesting ideas and warm fuzzies, it mostly generates confusion, frustration, and a strong, fermented sense of an opportunity wasted. Weirdly, former child actor Peter Billingsley (A Christmas Story) directed. Only positive: a use of a great, obscure Buzzcocks song.

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