APEX aka APEX PREDATOR (2021) Reviews of Bruce Willis sci-fi thriller – now with release news

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‘The hunters will be hunted’

Apex is a 2021 American science fiction action thriller film about six elite hunters who pay to hunt down a man on a deserted island… until they find themselves becoming the prey! Also known as Apex Predator

Directed by Edward Drake (Gasoline Alley; American Siege; Cosmic Sin; Broil) from a screenplay co-written with co-producer Corey Large (Cosmic SinBreach). Also produced by Sean Patrick O’Reilly. Loosely based on Richard Connell’s The Most Dangerous Game, the movie is officially billed as a remake of  Surviving the Game (1994) which stars Ice-T.

The movie stars:
Bruce Willis (Fortress; Midnight in the Switchgrass; Out of DeathHard KillCosmic SinBreach; Glass; Die Hard franchise)
Neal McDonough (Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City; Monsters of Man; Sonic the Hedgehog; Ravenous)
Alexia Fast (Grace: The Possession)
Lochlyn Munro (Cosmic Sin; Dead Voices; Initiation; Spiral 2019)
Megan Peta Hill (Broil; Open Water 3: Cage Dive)

The soundtrack score was composed by Hugh Wielenga (Broil).

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Plot:
Ex-cop Thomas Malone (Bruce Willis), who is serving a life sentence for a crime he didn’t commit. He is offered a chance at freedom if he can survive a deadly game of Apex, in which six hunters pay for the pleasure of hunting another human on a remote island. He accepts, and once he arrives all hell breaks loose. Laying traps and playing mind games, Malone tries to turn the tables and fight for his life and his future…

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Review:

Apex is more about mockery and silly psychology than basic fighting and killing scenes. Aside from Neal McDonough’s cold, calculating killer character, the other hunters are deliberately depicted as greedy, smug, egotistical, privileged rich morons (because, after all, what type of human beings are obsessed with hunting even small defenceless animals let alone people?).

Clearly, as a low budget production, Bruce Willis’ screen time was going to be very, very limited so it’s canny (some may say sneaky but it made me smile) that director Edward Drake and the movie’s producers chose to dress their big-name star in an easily spottable bright red jacket (one of the hunters mocks this as: “Is he senile?) so the audience can see him (or rather an obvious double in many scenes) in long shots and the foreground while we watch the idiot hunters brag, bicker and fall out with each other. Anyone expecting Willis to have more than a token role is clearly deluding themselves.

Apex doesn’t deliver on its initial promise of a killing machine wiping out the hunters and it was clearly just a breeze for Willis to just hang around in the woods for a while (and some supposedly comedic music, while he chomps hallucinogenic berries, is very misjudged).

The film isn’t much better than some productions by The Asylum but it’s self-referential with some minor witty comments in the script (“I’m just extrapolating some potential outcomes) and certainly preferable to many of Bruce’s other recent walk-on minor role movies – except perhaps Breach – due to its daft minor sci-fi elements (why did they bother?) and the massively overused yet strangely welcome Most Dangerous Game plot cliché of humans hunting humans.

Adrian J Smith, MOVIES and MANIA

Other reviews:
“Action fans will love the finale of Apex Predator, this is when Bruce racks up his traditional body count. Director Edward Drake and Bruce Willis seem to have a good working relationship and Drake always manages to get a glimmer of Classic Bruce into his movies, whether it be a one-liner or action sequence, you can tell he makes the most of the limited time he has with Willis.” Action Reloaded

“Of course, the biggest question here is, how can Willis play the target of a manhunt in an action movie and still manage his customary fifteen minutes of inactive screen time… The answer (as per usual) are the supporting cast. Thankfully, the ever-dependable Neal McDonough is on hand, to pick up the slack that Willis’ is clearly incapable of nowadays.” Straight-to-DVD Heaven [recommended read]

Release:
In the US, Apex will be released by RLJE Films day-and-date on November 12, 2021. “This film brings a new twist to the definition of hunter versus prey,” said RLJE chief acquisitions officer Mark Ward. “Bruce Willis and Neal McDonough go toe to toe with incredible intensity. We’re excited to bring this non-stop action thriller to audiences this fall.”

In the UK, Signature Entertainment releases Apex Predator on Digital on November 12th and on DVD on November 15th 2021.

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Cast and characters:
Bruce Willis … Thomas Ernest Malone aka ‘The Mutilator’
Neal McDonough … Samuel Rainsford
Alexia Fast … West Zaroff
Lochlyn Munro … Lyle
Megan Peta Hill … Jeza
Eric Buarque … Cliff
Corey Large … Carrion
Trevor Gretzky … Ecka
Joe Munroe … Damien
Nels Lennarson … Bishop
Adam Huel Potter … Warden Nicholls
Francis Cronin … Elias
Everly Large … Mia

Filming locations:
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

Technical details:
Running time: 89 minutes
Aspect ratio: 2.35:1

Hunting Humans: The Influence of The Most Dangerous Game – article

Notes:
Not to be confused with Dustin Ferguson‘s ultra-cheap Apex Predators (2021), which is a supposed shark attack film but contains hardly any actual shark footage, or Apex-Predator (aka Night Claws, 2012) which is a David A. Prior Bigfoot film.

Trailer:

MOVIES and MANIA rating:

Suggested double-bill:
Army of One (2020)