Director: Mark Cullen
Cast: Bruce Willis, John Goodman, Jason Momoa
Release Date: August 15, 2017
A Review By: Kevin Lovell
Film Rating: 7.5/10
Disc Rating: 7/10
Bruce Willis plays Venice Beach P.I. Steve Ford: a detective who’s good with the ladies, bad with the punches, and wild about his dog, Buddy. But when his beloved pet is stolen by local thugs, Steve makes a questionable alliance with their devious leader, Spyder (Jason Momoa). Teaming up with his best friend (John Goodman), Steve pulls out the big guns in search of Spyder’s stolen cocaine and cash in order to set things straight and get Buddy back where he belongs.
Get ready for some deadly fun in the sun with ‘Once Upon A Time in Venice’ which tells the story of Venice P.I. Steve Ford (Willis) who lives a relatively calm life, tackling the jobs he wants to with the help of his bumbling sidekick (Middleditch) and the company of his best friend (Goodman), not to mention his dog Buddy who he can’t imagine life without. But when a number of elements all come together which result in Steve becoming intricately caught up in an increasingly messing situation involving enemies all around and a crazy drug lord called Spyder (Mamoa), it soon leads to the possibility that those he cares for most (including Buddy) might end up becoming involved, forcing him to push past his usual limits and figure everything out before it’s too late.
Directed by Mark Cullen who is best known for his writing work including the screenplay for the Kevin Smith directed film ‘Cop Out’ (which undeniably shares a good few similarities with this one), Mark Cullen makes his feature length directorial debut with ‘Once Upon A Time in Venice’ and does a solid job guiding this hilarious ride along from a script he additionally co-wrote with regular collaborator Robb Cullen. The film also owes a good share of credit to the noteworthy cast which features a number of talented individuals and includes Bruce Willis (Die Hard), John Goodman (The Big Lebowski), Jason Momoa (Justice League), Thomas Middleditch (TV’s Silicon Valley), Famke Janssen (X-Men franchise), Adam Goldberg (The Salton Sea), Christopher McDonald (Happy Gilmore), Kal Penn (‘Harold and Kumar’ franchise) and more, nearly all delivering fitting performances in each of their respective roles. Jason Momoa nonetheless tends to have no problem stealing every scene he occupies with his insanely over the top and wildly hilarious portrayal of local drug lord Spyder.
I can’t help but find myself somewhat baffled by the outright hatred I’ve seen by many for ‘Once Upon A Time in Venice’ which has been met with no shortage of truly brutal reviews to say the least. While it’s certainly by no means perfect, I personally couldn’t help but have a tremendous amount of fun with it from start to finish and will definitely be revisiting this one in the not too distant future. It wholeheartedly embraces the classic action-comedy formula and never attempts to reconstruct or do anything daring and new with it, instead opting for delivering the highest level of hilarious, carefree fun imaginable and never yearning or attempting to be something it’s not. Directed (and co-written) by Mark Cullen (co-writer of ‘Cop Out’ and more) who does a pretty solid job guiding along ‘Once Upon A Time in Venice’ which also marks his directorial debut, and the film is further boosted a great deal by amusing performances from the noteworthy cast led by Bruce Willis. I would strongly urge anyone that enjoys a simple, hilarious and ridiculously fun action comedy to disregard the hate and give ‘Once Upon A Time in Venice’ a watch and decide for yourself when you have the opportunity to do so, even if by simply making a point of catching it when available on your favorite cable channel or streaming service. It’s a ridiculously enjoyable and lighthearted (not to mention vulgar) ride through the sunny streets of Venice with Bruce Willis doing his casual comedy best, along with Jason Momoa delivering a ridiculously goofy and outright hilarious portrayal of the drug lord Spyder which in itself makes this one well worth giving a shot.
Overall, ‘Once Upon A Time in Venice’ is a sunny, hilarious and ridiculously enjoyable action comedy with plenty of goofy characters and over the top humor that should make a perfect selection for a fun, easygoing evening movie that brings plenty of fun and laughs without requiring your brain to work overtime. While many will surely say the opposite, I would personally recommend (and have already done so) ‘Once Upon A Time in Venice’ to anyone who enjoyed ‘Cop Out’ or other similarly themed action comedies that aren’t afraid to just relax and have some hilarious, offensive fun with its audience, along with any diehard fans of Willis, Goodman, Momoa or the other notable members of the cast. It’s easily worth a watch on cable or via a cheap rental if nothing else for those who might be even the slightest bit intrigued yet also understandably hesitant to drop the funds on a blind purchase or an extra pricey rental charge.
The Blu-ray release of ‘Once Upon A Time in Venice’ features a full 1080p High Definition presentation utilizing the film’s original 2.40:1 Cinemascope Aspect Ratio. The video presentation looks pretty great as a whole and provides a sharp, detailed and warmly colored presentation from start to finish that suffers no notable faults throughout. It holds up admirably even during the fast moving and darkly lit sequences and never allows anything occurring on screen to become negatively affected or rendered indiscernible. Overall, this is a solid high definition video presentation that’s complimented by a more than adequate bitrate and should easily please.
The Blu-ray release features a lossless 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. This lossless multichannel soundtrack contributes even more fun to the overall viewing experience with this crisp, clean and often fairly aggressive audio presentation. It takes advantage of all five available channels on numerous occasions in order to send music, along with some bullets and other fitting auditory elements throughout the various speakers when appropriate, and always making certain that any dialogue that might be occurring simultaneously remains clean and fully audible at all times. Overall, this is a highly capable 5.1 channel DTS-HD MA soundtrack that compliments the film splendidly and shouldn’t disappoint.
The Blu-ray release of ‘Once Upon A Time in Venice’ includes a single extra: ‘Once Upon A Time in Venice: Behind the Scenes’ (running approximately 17 minutes in length) which features a behind the scenes look at the movie with comments from the cast and crew.