Combustible Celluloid
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With: Bruce Willis, Frank Grillo, Kevin Dillon, Leon Robinson, Gianni Capaldi, Brooke Butler, Johnny Messner, Vernon Davis
Written by: Rab Berry, Scott Mallace
Directed by: Wes Miller
MPAA Rating: R for violence, pervasive language, drug use and some sexual material/nudity
Running Time: 105
Date: 03/04/2022

A Day to Die (2022)

1/2 Star (out of 4)

'Die' Bored

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Sometimes these low-budget Bruce Willis action movies have weird little touches that distract from their awfulness, but this one has none; it's as lazy, nonsensical, and junky-looking as they come.

A special ops team is called in to help a hostage situation in a high school, and everything goes south. Some time later, team member Connor (Kevin Dillon) is now working as a parole officer; he shoots and kills a drug dealer in a dispute over one of his parolees. Unfortunately, drug lord Tyrone Pettis (Leon) catches him, and demands $2 million to make up for his loss. For collateral, Pettis kidnaps Connor's pregnant wife (Brooke Butler).

Connor must re-assemble his old team, including his brother Tim (Gianni Capaldi), Dwayne (Vernon Davis), Steve (Alexander Kane), and their captain, Mason (Frank Grillo). They steal a pile of money from a rival drug lord, but it's not enough. After a stand-off, the team and Pettis decide to join forces to take down crooked police chief Alston (Bruce Willis).

A Day to Die starts with one of its most baffling sequences, in which the so-called heroes blow up a high school with innocent victims inside. Not only does it not make sense story-wise, but the sequence is also hard to follow on a technical level. The cinematography, here and throughout the rest of the movie, is garish and wildly jerky, and the editing is so inept as to be confusing. Random images seem to pop up at jarring, inappropriate times.

The writing does not get better either. An attempt to discuss drugs and racism as they relate to American history feels wedged in and ineffective. Character decisions make no sense, and things like a "heist montage," in which a character narrates just how the team is going to break in and steal the money, is dropped in favor of a dull, messy shootout. Willis sleepwalks through another performance, and the others don't fare much better.

Dillon is miscast. He looks — and is — 23 years older than his movie wife, and it's squirm-inducing (they call each other "baby" dozens upon dozens of times). Even the Pettis character, who sports a stylish wardrobe and thinks he's using his drug money to uplift his community, is flatly dull. The only thing A Day to Die manages to kill is your two hours and your seven bucks.

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