By Jake Watt
7th March 2021

Co-written and directed by Edward Drake, 'Cosmic Sin' opens with a lot of expository text in a basic font, explaining that, in the year 2524, mankind has colonised the galaxy. First contact proves to be of the negative variety and invasion is imminent, forcing General Eron Ryle (an underrated Frank Grillo, who has 30 minutes of screen-time and deserves better roles than 'Boss Level', 'Jiu Jitsu' and this film) to call in the one man who can save civilisation as we know it. That man is disgraced General James Ford (Bruce Willis, in comatose expression mode).

I could write about 'Cosmic Sin' in greater depth, about how the VFX are decent, that I'm a fan of Grillo as an actor, and how there are a few good turns from C.J. Perry, Adelaide Kane and co-screenwriter Corey Large in supporting roles. I could also draw lengthy comparisons to the many films and TV series that the story draws inspiration from, such as 'The Outer Limits', 'Edge of Tomorrow', 'Armageddon', 'Aliens', 'Star Trek' and 'Ghosts of Mars'.


But, honestly, 'Cosmic Sin' isn't that interesting. Instead, I'd like to talk about the term "Bruce Willis Days".

You might have noticed that Bruce Willis' output over the past few years has consisted entirely of straight-to-VOD Steven Segal-quality rubbish and truly terrible sequels that have deservedly bombed. Remember 'Breach', 'Survive the Night', 'Trauma Centre', 'Reprisal', 'Air Strike', 'Acts of Violence', 'Extraction', 'Marauders', 'Hard Kill', and 'First Kill'?

The production on films like 'Cosmic Sin' revolves around the one or two days that Bruce shows up on set with zero enthusiasm, sleepwalks through the motions, and makes the production crew run themselves ragged so he can zoom in and out on his private jet.

Once you're aware of this, you can see that all of Willis' scenes take place in a handful of locations and that any scenes requiring sudden movement are filmed with stunt men. Sometimes entire conversations are filmed with stand-in actors, with the camera trained on the character's back. For a single day of work, Willis is paid $US1-2 million, the producers get to use his face on the poster (the one for 'Cosmic Sin' reuses old artwork from the marketing collateral for 'Die Hard 4') and the movie gains a degree of recognition. Clever producers make these kind of movies at a loss as a tax write-off.

Why is Bruce Willis like this?

Willis could be making bigger movies for a smaller pay cheque and longer days of work. Every now and then, he does show up and put a bit of effort in for people he likes working with ('Glass' with M. Night Shyamalan) or someone that he admires ('Motherless Brooklyn' with Edward Norton, 'Looper' with Rian Johnson), but I don't think he's in it to make art anymore.

Why is Bruce Willis like this? Maybe it's because he's been famous for so long that he's weary of being a star and hates having to do typical thespian things. Maybe he needs the cash flow to support a lavish lifestyle. Maybe he has an identical twin who loathes acting and the real Bruce only turns up for the really top-tier stuff. Maybe it's a side effect of being shot in the head with a fake bullet on the set of Antoine Fuqua's 'Tears of the Sun'.

Nicolas Cage went into debt after buying a dinosaur skull, pygmy heads and two European castles. He has to make a lot of crappy straight-to-VOD movies for financial reasons, but you can tell that he continues to care about his craft. I've watched a few interviews and he's still full of enthusiasm. He still makes the occasional great film too, like 'Mandy' or 'Joe'. Bruce Willis, on the other hand, has a look on his face like he's fuming that someone is paying him to star in a movie.

In any event, Willis doesn't care about acting anymore, and audiences shouldn't be expected to care about his glorified cameos in late-career fillers like 'Cosmic Sin'.

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