Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (June 19, 2022)
Because 2021’s Fortress now enjoys a sequel via 2022’s Fortress: Sniper’s Eye, does this mean the former performed well at the direct-to-video “box office”? Maybe, but not necessarily.
Sniper’s Eye was already in production before the 2021 movie made it to viewers. With an as-yet-untitled Fortress 3 on the way, I suspect the filmmakers combined the production of all these flicks into one large shoot.
While not an atrocity, the 2021 Fortress didn’t really work. Nonetheless, I held out a sliver of hope Eye might fare better.
In the first film, the psychotic Frederick Balzary (Chad Michael Murray) and his crew attacked a “retirement community” populated by former special agents. This focuses on Robert Michaels (Willis), with his estranged son Paul (Jesse Metcalfe) involved as collateral damage.
As Robert and Paul continue to regroup weeks after this assault, complications ensue when Balzary rears his ugly head again. This sends the Michaels men on another mission as they attempt to fend off this threat.
When we last saw a Willis direct-to-video vehicle, this occurred during a span in which his relentless pace of cinematic appearances felt like fair game for mockery. After all, Willis showed up in eight 2021 films, virtually all of which felt like cash grabs that required the actor to exert little time on the set. This trend got so bad that the Razzies devoted an entire new category to Willis’s run of direct-to-video flicks.
The view of this all changed in March 2022 when Willis’s family revealed that he suffered from aphasia, a disorder that impacts language abilities. Suddenly it seemed downright cruel to laugh at his acting choices.
As such, I will lay off criticisms of Willis in this space. I will say that at least Eye manages to integrate Willis better with the rest of the cast than most of his direct-to-video efforts.
In a lot of these, the movies went to comical extremes in their attempts to make it look like Willis worked with his costars. Here he clearly interacts with the others a decent amount of the time, so Eye lacks the bizarre editing/photographic choices of its peers.
This doesn’t mean one should expect Willis to really do much in Eye, however. Probably as a reflection of his diminishing skills, the film keeps Willis either bed-bound or stuck in a chair the vast majority of the time.
Not that Eye packs a lot of action when it doesn’t focus on Willis, though. Essentially a remake of the first film, Eye offers a cheap and shoddy affair.
Whereas the prior flick didn’t boast great production values, it felt more like a “real movie” than Eye does. Though it manages to expand during the third act, an awful lot of the “story” takes place in confined locations, and it does so for no real reason beyond its $38 budget.
Again: the 2021 film didn’t come across as anything fancy, but it seemed less chintzy than Eye. Heck, at least the prior flick attempted its own story, whereas Eye really just repeats the same sketchy narrative.
Would it have been that tough to come up with a different plot? Apparently, as the lack of creativity on display here implies that no one involved enjoyed the talent to find a new tale to tell.
Or maybe they just figured that the undemanding direct-to-video audience wouldn’t care that Eye heavily regurgitates the first movie’s events. Crud, Eye gives us such a lazy product that it can’t even invent new villains despite the fact these characters supposedly died already!
I will say it’s fun to see Welker White, the GoodFellas drug mule whose obsession with her “lucky hat” caused chaos. Otherwise, I can find nothing to endorse here, as Eye becomes a shoddy, dull and pointless piece of “action product”.