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 basic "muted monotone" 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 "Bruce Willis Days", which are the only days (one or two, at most) that Bruce works on the film. They condense all of his scenes into mammoth 24-hour working days. Bruce then shows up with zero enthusiasm, goes through the motions, and makes the crew basically kill themselves so he can be in and out on his private jet.
Once you're aware of this, you can see that all of his scenes take place in two locations, and all the action scenes are clearly stunt guys. Sometimes entire conversations are filmed with obvious stand-ins, where the camera is trained on the character's back. For that single day of work, Willis is paid $US1-2 million, the producers get to put his face on the poster (the poster for 'Cosmic Sin' actually reuses old artwork from the marketing collateral for 'Die Hard 4') and the movie gains a little recognition. Some producers even make movies at a loss as a tax write-off.
Why is Bruce Willis like this?
Willis could make bigger movies for less money and more 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 respects ('Motherless Brooklyn' with Edward Norton, 'Looper' with Rian Johnson), but I don't think he's in it for the prestige anymore.
Why is Bruce Willis like this? Maybe it's because he's made it big already, he's tired of being a star, and hates having to do typical actor things. Maybe he needs the cash flow to support a ridiculously expensive lifestyle. Maybe he has a secret identical twin who hates acting and the real Bruce only turns up for the good 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 these days, but you can tell that he continues to care. I've watched a few interviews and he's full of enthusiasm and seems like a nice guy. 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 actually pissed off 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'.