|'That's the level of The Prince; it isn't uninspired, or serviceable, or a badly executed Thriller; it can only be described as purposefully bad, deliberately trying to appeal to the people who want to watch terrible films of an evening.'|
Think of any recent Nicholas Cage film. Let's take a specific one actually: Tokarev. I've not seen it and it might be a masterpiece. Popular consensus says otherwise, but hey, open mind and all that. At the very least, you've probably heard of it. It had a small patter of PR, a few reviews, then fizzled into oblivion. But at least you had a chance of knowing it existed. With that in mind, just how bad are the big-name starring films that you didn't know existed? When Nick Cage makes a film and no-one hears it flop, does it actually exist?
With that logic I turned on The Prince on Netflix one night. I had never heard of The Prince and it does not feature Nick Cage. It does though feature Bruce Willis, Jason Patric and John Cusack and that is a cast of big names if ever there was one. 'How bad does this have to be', I wondered, as I pressed play, 'to not even make a Tokarev-level blip on the radar?' A level of alcohol, you understand, had been imbibed.
The sane amongst you will not be surprised to hear that it is very bad indeed. It's not inconceivably bad, given the current penchant for making dross like Mega Piranha (noughties trash is particularly worthless, in a way some Seventies and Eighties trash is not), but with the recognisable acting talent involved it is stunning that they have somehow ended up in a film of a piece with the aforementioned big fish 'spectacle'. That's the level of The Prince; it isn't uninspired, or serviceable, or a badly executed Thriller; it can only be described as purposefully bad, deliberately trying to appeal to the people who want to watch terrible films of an evening.
The performances are a good starting point. Willis' willingness to be terrible is no surprise. He is no worse here than he is in A Good Day To Die Hard, but at least that has some level of production value and Jai Courtney to make him look good. Stripped of that he is the nothing he has been for a while. Patric, giving the least terrible performance on show, mumbles through. Then there's Cusack, a man who, let's not forget, turned down Hot Tub Time Machine 2, a decision that, at least on the basis of his appearance here, was not made to preserve his reputation. His pauses are less pregnant, more like the gestation period of your average rhinoceros. His character lives in an opulently appointed apartment where, judging by his manner, he has forgone the weed and moved straight on to pure heroin. It's less as if he couldn't care, more like he is not actually aware of where he is and what he should be caring about.
The rest of the film proves an educational instruction in how to interpret movies that actually try, on some level, to be good. If you thought any of the last few films to feature 50 Cent were bad, or that he was bad in them, The Prince will re-educate you as to how bad he, and they, could have been. If you thought that Joe Carnahan did a great job with Patric in Narc, this will show you that he actually did an Oscar-worthy job. If you thought the Liam Neeson Action flicks of current (in)fame were stretching his appeal, this will show you otherwise.
I can only say that, when you are next tempted by a film like this, choose Tokarev, a film the quality of which I cannot speak of. What I can say is that it definitely exists and appeared, for the briefest of moments, to actually try. I can't say either of those things for certain about The Prince.
The Prince was playing on Netflix.