REVIEW: Survive The Game

 Don't confuse the Bruce Willis 2021 film Survive the Game with the 1994 film Surviving the Game, which starred Ice-T.  Also don't confuse Survive The Game with the 2020 Bruce Willis film, Survive the Night.  Also, if Survive the Game makes you instantly think of The Most Dangerous Game (and consequently movies like Surviving the Game and Hard Target), then you need to be thinking about Apex (a 2021 Bruce Willis film that is a rip off of Surviving the Game). 

I kind of feel like the title of this film is intentionally trying to have some sort of recognition meld with other films.  If true, that's some Asylum (the creator of many 'mockbusters' that try to trick people into watching films based off of similarities to Hollywood fare) level tricksy happening.  There is no judgement here from me.  I'd be doing anything possible to get people to watch Survive the Game, as word of mouth sure won't do the job.

The 'plot' here is that two cops, Cal (Swen Temmel) and David (Bruce Willis), are incompetent and mess up an attempt to bust a drug deal.  The drug dealers are incompetent as well as their henchpeople.  A confusing car chase takes them to a remote farm where Eric (Chad Michael Murray) is in bed and reminiscing about how he was an incompetent father and husband before he killed his family in an accident.  From reminiscing about his incompetence, he decides to lean into that when the cops and criminals arrive.

This film, directed by James Cullen Bressack (who has recently directed a Steven Seagal in Beyond the Law), is a mess.  Whenever there is hand to hand combat, the shots are so shaky and quickly edited with a constant soundtrack of grunts, and following the action is impossible.  What do you do when you don't want to take the time to choreograph action?  You do exactly what Bressack does.

While the acting is horrendous across the board, Willis is the anchor that latches this vessel to the seabed.  His character gets shot in the stomach early on, which means that for almost the rest of the film he is sitting down.  I wonder if this was in his contract.  He would do the film, but only if he got to sit.  There are a few shots of David slowly jogging, and none of these shots show Willis' face, making me ponder on if they used a stuntman because Willis couldn't be bothered to jog.

Most of the characters in this film are meant to look and act cool.  When I say 'cool,' I mean what seventh grade Scott would have thought was cool.  One of the baddies is all tatted up, with the tattoos looking as if they were applied with a Sharpie.  Everyone here is too cool for school, but their level of absurd incompetence keeps them from ever feeling like they could actually be good at what they do.  But hey, they kind of look cool.

What kind of incompetence am I talking about?  Well, a super vicious drug dealer has his gun pointed at Eric, who decides to turn and run.  He takes the porch stairs as his exit route, but not quickly.  The baddie, Frank (Michael Sirow) says 'shit' as he realizes Eric has escaped him.  Meanwhile, Eric is still only about five feet away.  The only change in the situation is that he is going down the stairs.  According to the Jedi, Frank is guaranteed to win since he has the high ground.  Eric is literally still right there, but the script tells us he is now safe.

So many times in this film people with guns are incompetent so that fist fights can happen or so people can get away.  A woman avenging the death of her boyfriend runs behind Cal with a shotgun.  Does she shoot him?  Nope.  She tries some kind of leg sweep and instantly looses her shotgun.  This film is idiocy.  Pure, agonizing idiocy.

While watching, I did have several laugh out loud moments.  I have always wondered what happened to the B-movies of old, the ones so horrible that they bring disbelief and laughter.  Well, as Christopher and I say on The Movie Breakdown Podcast, they do make them like they used to, you just have to search.  I never would have thought we could be speaking truth about films of such a low standard that they really shouldn't exist anymore.  When I see someone try and head fake a bullet, I laugh.  It shouldn't be in modern cinema, but there it is.  I laugh.

In the past, I have been lenient on films that are so poorly executed because they brought me a masocistic joy.  I did laugh more in this film than I have at any crappy movie affair over the last number of years, but I can't reward it with anything.  Every single element of this movie is at a staggering level of ineptitude.  The script, the acting, the directing, the editing, and coherency of the film are bottom barrel.  I didn't think that a 2021 film could be worse than Apex or Cosmic Sin (both starring Bruce Willis), but Survive the Game has reminded me of just how bad a movie can turn out.

Rating - 0 out of 4 stars