(director/writer: Chuck Russell; screenwriters: Corey Large, Edward Drake; cinematographer: Austin F. Schmidt; editor: Peter Devaney Flanagan; music: Saw Ewing; cast: John Travolta (Buckley), Bruce Willis (Ian Swan), Stephen Dorff (Robbie Cole), Amber Abama (Gerry), Blake Jenner (Ryan Swan), Bernie Gewissler (Billford), Praya Lundberg (Savannah); Runtime: 93; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Corey Large; Saban Films/Apple TV; 2022)

“Dull cliched thriller.

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Veteran but passe writer-director of action pics, Chuck Russell (“Junglee”/”The Mask”), sets this dull cliched thriller, with trite banter and monologues, in beautiful and lush Hawaii. It reunites Bruce Willis (who stepped away from the film after a short performance because it was discovered he had aphasia and could no longer perform without his speech being dubbed) and John Travolta, who played together 28 years ago in Pulp Fiction (1994) but make no connection here, as Willis disappears after only a few scenes.

Despite its talented cast, no sparks fly.

It’s co-written by Corey Large and Edward Drake as a tale of vengeance among some bad guys. In Maui, the bounty hunter Ryan Swan (Blake Jenner) tries to track down who killed his estranged hard-ass  father, Ian (Bruce Willis), in a shootout over a cartel deal, and flies there to investigate. Ryan teams up with the conflicted local bounty hunter, Robbie Cole (Stephen Dorff), who once worked with his dad until they had a falling out.

The Maui police Detective Savannah (Praya Lundberg) helps the bounty hunter by digging up clues.

Ryan contacts the local mob boss Buckley (John Travolta), who fronts as a land developer (out to get mining rights on Indigenous Hawaiian lands) and is involved in supporting a senatorial candidate, and probably knows a lot more than he’s telling the investigators.

The pic goes off course when psychedelics are introduced and the murder investigation goes on hold. There’s a final showdown, but it lacks energy.

Travolta as the chief villain says, “The only thing I’m scared of is me. And I am me, so there’s nothing to be scared of.” All I can say is, Yikes!

Paradise City

REVIEWED ON 11/30/2022  GRADE: C