Director James Cullen Bressack and writer Alan Horsnall help Bruce Willis retain his direct-to-home-market crown in the action flick, Fortress from Lionsgate. Willis plays Robert, a retired CIA agent living at a private resort out in the woods. One day, his estranged son Paul (Jesse Metcalfe) drives to the camp for a visit — but he’s followed by Robert’s old nemesis, Balzary (Chad Michael Murray).
As the site is besieged by Balzary’s attack squad, led by Ulysses (Ser’Darius Blain), father and son retreat to a high-tech bunker led by General Dobbs (Shannen Doherty). But are its steel walls and advanced weapons powerful enough to match Balzary’s bloodthirsty plans for revenge? Fortress serves as a reunion for Willis and former co-stars/crew. The action legend has worked with the director, writer, and two co-stars at least once within the last year.
Sad to say though, Fortress is another notch in the Willis doldrums movie belt. I will give the script credit for using cryptocurrency as one of its plot devices, and it’s always cool to see Ser’Darius Blain go against type, but the positives end there for me. Willis is just on autopilot throughout the film. Now, I do understand that people do change as time goes on, as Willis is now sixty years young, and perhaps he wants to get a check and just move on to the direct-to-home-market flick.
However, throughout the short film’s run time, there’s no passion when Willis takes care of the bad guys. Jesse Metcalfe tries to sell the role of the estranged son/crypto genius, but it just doesn’t come through well. This sentiment also carries over to Chad Michael Murray as our primary antagonist. Murray came into prominence guest-starring on teen-centric WB shows before leading the classic show One Tree Hill for six seasons. I liken Murray to the late Luke Perry in the sense that he’s a talented actor who has taken a while to lose the teen heartthrob image.
Murray can pull off a villain, but the script doesn’t give him much to work with, and instead, he comes across as a tepid cosplayer and never as menacing. In the same regard, the talented Shannen Doherty has a throwaway scene, and while her part is somewhat brief, I was not too fond of the arc for her character. Like his last film, James Cullen Bressack still directs muddled and uninspiring action sequences. The only remotely interesting actor was Ser’Darius Blain as the lead henchmen for Balzary.
Every week or so, it seems like there’s another direct-to-home-market actioner starring Bruce Willis. I keep hoping that Willis will deliver a good one, but he continues to let me down. Hopefully, one of the six actioners he has lined up for 2022 can return Willis to his glory days. I will point out that if you do enjoy Fortress, a stinger sets up a sequel that is currently in post-production.
Final Grade: D-
Fortress is available on Digital, On Demand and in Select Theaters, December 17th. In addition the film is
Available on Blu-ray and DVD on December 21st