Al Pacino looks tired. The 78-year-old somehow finds himself with his dark, youthful spiky hair pointing a gun at a suspect. Although his character in ExecutionerRay Archer, is recently retired, he is still the number one choice to help in a game of cat and mouse with a serial killer who watched Seven too many times.
Somewhere along the line, Pacino took a wrong turn and entered the twilight zone of straight-to-DVD/VOD thriller.
VOD is no longer necessarily synonymous with obscurity and irrelevance – watch Netflix aggressively trying to change the model (to suit its own ends), with believable releases such as Okja, the discovery and Annihilation. But still, many movies that steer clear of the big screen still do so for a good reason – for now at least.
But Pacino is not alone in this strange purgatory. Many of Hollywood’s biggest living stars are now serving their sentences in the sparsely documented and seldom-watched land of films deemed unworthy of theatrical release. Wondering where John Travolta, Bruce Willis, Burt Reynolds or Meg Ryan have been lately? They are always busy in leading roles. It’s just images and screens that have become small.
When Burt Lancaster and Robert Mitchum reached their 50s in the 1970s, they left Hollywood to shoot westerns and crime films in Europe, where their name retained the shine it had lost back home. In the 1980s, straight-to-video B-movies were the last port of call. Once Hollywood royalty has lost its box office realm today, VOD is its inevitable place of exile.
Pacino, at least, is barely locked in this hellhole. Ever since his box office appeal waned around the turn of the century, he’s sought out admirably challenging roles. He turned to television for speaking engagements such as that of David Mamet Phil Spector (2013), and filmmaking for appropriate vehicles for a star of his years, like his simmering, unhappy titular locksmith in Manglehorn (2014).
We will then see him in the role of Jimmy Hoffa in his debut for Martin Scorsese, The Irishman. Pacino still works as a competitor.
Why, then, is the star of The Godfatherwhose filmography of the 1970s and 1980s was so picky, making in Executioner? And this just after the VOD accolade of Pirates of Somalia (2016) and Misconduct (2015) ?
The latter sees Pacino sharing scenes with an equally hungry Anthony Hopkins, coping on charisma as a Southern lawyer mentor for Transformers Josh Duhamel until he pulls some more out of his bag for his climactic scene.
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“There is Shakespeare for you,” he offers Duhamel. “I apologize for the theatricality,” he adds to the police, before turning the weapon of this film against himself.
Misconduct is actually passable entertainment, and no worse than Pacino’s movie pair of cops, 88 Minutes (2007) and Righteous Murder (2008). He gave them a kind of justification in the Voice of the village. It was like his early Off-Off-Broadway transplant days, he suggested, “You get the practice… That’s my mantra. Just keep doing it.
ExecutionerThe Johnny Martin director recalls Pacino asking him about the motivations of the background characters in what is only a B-movie. It feels like a trip to the comedian’s gym, keeping his muscles in shape until until they are needed.
“I don’t think I’m very good at it,” said Bruce Willis Squire of his acting. “But I like doing it.” Actually Watch All Nine Willis VOD Movies, Because His Career Has Taken a Dive From Visionary Rian Johnson looper and Wes Anderson Moonrise Kingdom (both in 2012), and he probably stopped caring a long time ago.
The last, acts of violence (2018), features tired, harsh jokes from his mostly office-seated cop who keeps a straight face giving true Class-Z stars of the film Cole Hauser and Shawn Ashmore “24 Hours” to solve the problem. ‘case. The station precious cargo (2016) sees his mobster being shot in the back from a long distance by a criminal sniper “hero”. Willis is apathetic to both sides of the law, his underaction measured in The sixth sense now reduced to an imperceptibly low simmer, as he trades paychecks for the remains of his name.
This year death wish the remake briefly returned Willis to wide exposure in cinema (as opposed to the token reservations that can come with VOD). And yet the “shootings, car chases, robbery, crash” a Kentucky newspaper warned locals to expect during the filming of its just wrapped film. Reprisals do not suggest an extremely promising change of course.
Maybe M Night Shyamalan Unbreakable following, Glassand Jonathan Lethem’s adaptation of Edward Norton in the 1950s, motherless brooklyn, will mark a revival next year. VOD, on the other hand, is a world where Willis is marking time. With only undemanding fans watching, why bother?
The case of John Travolta is more complex. His tin ear for scripts squandered two periods of high popularity, after Saturday Night Fever/Greaseand pulp Fictionremarkable return. The slump of the past decade, however, shows he’s still trying.
His Ahab-style black beard as a Serbian special forces veteran hunting down Robert De Niro in killer season (2013) was her most ridiculous look since her blue-skinned alien in the disaster battlefield land (2000).
But as an Irish crook from Boston bonding with his irascible criminal father (Christopher Plummer) and disappointed son (Mudby Tye Sheridan) in the forger (2014), Travolta finds moments of dark pathos before the film splits. His grizzled, worldly, wooden-legged marshal in Ti West’s western In a valley of violence (2016) also shows the lasting impact of his charismatic personality.
Yet the same year i am anger This is where Travolta hit rock bottom, mixing biblical emphasis and cynical banter into a haywire right death wish riff. The fun of off-roading in video stores has always involved the skill and restraint of the general public, and although this terrible film leaves Travolta eye-to-eye in the sewers of the cinema, it is still more interesting than safety. in the studio of his latest midlife crisis hit. old dogs (2009).
Meanwhile, distributors of Gotti, which stars Travolta as the silver-haired “Teflon Don,” has been battling to upgrade its planned VOD status to a full US theater release this month. His varied recent employment suggests he’s ready for his next comeback.
Sometimes VOD is an outlet for an actor who has lost his cinematic power, but still wants to stretch. Michael Douglas produced Beyond the reach (2014), and stars as a Los Angeles executive who chases a young tracker across the Mojave, replacing an absurd plot with the enjoyment of a satisfyingly ferocious lead he’s created for himself, when no one else would.
Pierce Brosnan, meanwhile, alternates between midlife romantic comedies and outdated spy films, and always finds room for self-produced films. THIS (2016). Although the DVD box promises hard-eyed, gun-toting Bondage, Brosnan’s self-taught Northern Irish tycoon’s battle with a tech-savvy young stalker allows him to explore the brute force of a mighty man.
VOD careers are mostly reserved for men. Hollywood’s patriarchal norms allow actors in their 70s and even 80s to punch and shoot their opponents as they always have. Meg Ryan’s hesitant pursuit of a career that imploded in the early 2000s offers some late additions to her rom-com resume, however, with partners such as William H. Macy (2008’s The deal), Antonio Banderas (2008’s My Mom’s New Boyfriend) and Timothy Hutton (2009’s serious moonlight).
VOD is finally a kind of afterlife, cozy or grating depending on past cinematic acts. America’s favorite former movie star, Burt Reynolds, has gone from TV movies to direct-to-video on VOD in 40 years of decline. His 31 films since boogie nights (1997) have rarely troubled movie screens.
Although The last producer (2000) was followed by The Last Movie Star (2017), his updated role as a good ol’ boy leading a beach volleyball team of pornstars in Cloud 9 (2006) confirmed that such elegiac titles were not earned.
Reynolds’ career is the opposite of that of his former rival Clint Eastwood. Self-awareness and strategy confuse him. He’s a pure VOD star. His infinite digital hinterland is simply a place where he will always find work.
“Hangman” is out on VOD right now