Story: James Malone (Bruce Willis) is an ex police offer who finds himself behind bars with a life sentence, for a crime that he did not commit. He gets an unusual offer for freedom however, if he agrees to travel a remote island and survive a camping trip in the woods. Of course, it isn’t that simple and Malone will have to do a lot more than survive if he wants to leave prison behind, though at this point, he is open to any possible solutions. As it turns out, he won’t be alone on the island and he will be joined by six elite hunters, all of whom want to claim Malone’s trophy. So to regain his freedom, Malone will have to battle six armed, trained hunters who have paid a fortune to partake in this exotic hunt, but will Malone prove to be trickier prey than expected?
Entertainment Value: If you’ve ever wanted to see Bruce Willis, tripping on hallucinogenic mushrooms, being tracked by high level hunters, Apex affords you that experience and honestly, this is better than most of Bruce’s Willisverse output. Or at least more entertaining, since there is a decent amount of action, some fun lines, and a humorous effort from Bruce. The narrative is fine, more or less giving us a fresh version of The Most Dangerous Game, dropping any social commentary in favor of one liners and action set pieces. While most of Bruce’s direct to video releases have him in a small role and reflect their low budgets with minimal action, Apex gives Bruce a little more to do, including letting his personality shine through and the action scenes are ticked up here. I wouldn’t go bananas for these set pieces, but there is a decent amount of action and for a Willisverse installment, the b movie cheese is dialed up and to me, that is why I enjoyed Apex so much. But it seems like I am in the minority on that front, based on most other reviews, though I had fun with this one. If you like Bruce rattling off one liners in a low rent, b movie action flick, Apex is worth a spin.
I’ve seen most of Bruce’s direct to video releases and while most are watchable, Willis is rarely given a role that lets him do much. Here Willis seems to have a little of his old magic, just a more sedated version, which I think adds to the b movie vibes. He has a good amount of fun quips and doesn’t feel as fenced in as some of his recent roles, where he lays in hospital beds or sits behind desks, this feels like a more kinetic, lively performance. Not on par with his Die Hard days of course, but that would be pretty unrealistic expectations. He does indeed trip on mutant, hallucinogenic mushrooms and that alone is reason for fans to check this out, at least to me. Neal McDonough is fun and camps it up as our villain and he adds a lot to the movie’s entertainment. I appreciate that he ran with the b movie texture and really dialed up his performance. The cast also includes Alexia Fast, Megan Peta Hill, Lochlyn Munro, and Corey Large.