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Case Number 14888

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Vice (2008)

Genius Products // 2008 // 99 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // October 31st, 2008

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All Rise...

Judge David Johnson worked on vice, before he was transferred to homicide.

Editor's Note

Our review of Vice (2015) (Blu-ray), published April 8th, 2015, is also available.

The Charge

It's a dirty job.

Opening Statement

Michael Madsen (Bloodrayne) continues his direct-to-DVD career, starring in a hard-boiled cop movie filled with potty-mouths.

Facts of the Case

Infamous vice cop Detective Walker (Madsen) has always been—are you ready for this—a loose cannon who doesn't play by the rules. Consistently straddling the line between corruption and edgy, Walker won't think twice about planting a gun on a girl and shooting the crap out of her.

One night, during a straightforward sting operation, things go real bad real fast, and shots are fired and Walker's best friend and partner (Mykelti Williamson) gets a cap in his leg and a bunch of bullet-ridden stiffs lie strewn about. Hey, when you're a bad-ass cop, that kind of @#$% goes down regularly. But something stinks even more, as cops in Walker's unit are systematically taken out and lots and lots of heroin has gone missing.

The Evidence

This is definitely a hard-boiled cop movie, if by "hard-boiled" you mean "featuring characters that drop the F-bomb incessantly." Vice lays on the foul-mouthed antihero schtick pretty heavy, painting its characters with broad strokes of Corrupt-Cop Brush. That tactic can take you fairly far, but the cops in this film tend to either be a) hollow, one-dimensional dicks or b) motivated by the most laughable of intentions.

Unfortunately, the major issue holding back Vice is its pacing. After the boffo shootout in the beginning, the action dries up and the film turns into a procedural that proceeds with the momentum of a rhombus rolling down a hill. There's a lot of growling and glowering and Michael Madsen is constantly pissed off and his crew take after their boss and unleash their own brand of pissed-offness. The result: an atmosphere permeated by not-so-pleasantness, which would be fine if the characters or the story were interesting and the big mystery was at all gripping.

On both counts that's a "not-so-much." Madsen is Madsen and while he's perfectly suited for this kind of gruff, hard-ass role, you've seen it before. Still, it beats a mullet-clad knight lurching through an unidentifiable European accent in an Uwe Boll movie.

Daryl Hannah plays the second banana and occupies a pivotal role in the revelation of the mystery. She's okay, but is saddled with the aforementioned ridiculous motivation that essentially turns Vice into a laughingstock. Too bad, because there was a half-decent cop movie lurking underneath the dysfunction.

The DVD: a fine-looking 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen, 5.1 Dolby Digital, two behind-the-scenes featurettes and a music video.

Closing Statement

Not much of interest here. Move along.

The Verdict

Guilty. @#$%.

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Scales of Justice

Video: 90
Audio: 85
Extras: 80
Acting: 70
Story: 60
Judgment: 64

Perp Profile

Studio: Genius Products
Video Formats:
• 1.85:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
• None
Running Time: 99 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Rated R
• Action
• Drama

Distinguishing Marks

• Featurettes
• Music Video


• IMDb

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