In the planned sequel to "Unbreakable," Bruce Willis reprises his role as a man who can emerge unscathed from disaster, a skill that comes in handy in "Once Upon a Time in Venice."
Hooking up with his old pal M. Night Shyamalan probably reminds Willis of better days, better scripts, when he wasn't skateboarding naked for the sake of slapstick laughs like he does here (the title refers to its location, Venice Beach, Calif.), playing a disgraced cop turned private eye named Steve.
The movie is a shaggy dog story about a dog, Steve's beloved pet, which ends up in the hands of a Mexican drug cartel. To get it back, Steve must broker a deal among a complex web of competing interests the drug dealers, a nymphomaniac with protective brothers, a real estate developer (Adam Goldberg) with a graffiti problem.
Writer-brothers Robb and Mark Cullen teamed with Willis (and Tracy Morgan) for the 2010 Kevin Smith comedy "Cop-Out." This time they're in charge of their own script, borrowing a style or two. The title hints at Sergio Leone by way of Robert Rodriguez, and the trippy story and surf music seem like shout-outs to Quentin Tarantino of the "Pulp Fiction" era. Surely, Willis was hoping the movie would be more like "Pulp Fiction," less like "Cop-Out."
No such luck.