Corrective Measures is a movie based on a graphic novel that came out in 2008. It’s basically a really low-budget rip-off of Suicide Squad and The X-Men, and will only be remembered as one of Bruce Willis’ very last films, one of those where he just showed up on set for a day or two.
It’s not terrible, but it’s not good either. For one thing, Corrective Measures doesn’t really have a lead character. Michael Rooker, a great character actor best known for his chilling performance Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer and other films, plays the warden of Tiburon, a high-security prison where all of these X-Men types have been sent. There has been something called ‘The Pulse’ that gave people random powers, and now the most dangerous ones have been put under lock and key here. The writers try to throw a little social commentary in with the action, but the plot is unfocused and goes off on various strands. If they had managed to focus in on one character, it had the potential to be a pretty decent movie.
I can’t say that I have seen the other VOD Willis vehicles of the past few years, with the exception of Once Upon a Time in Venice—the only recent-ish films of his I’ve seen are the ones that have been reissued theatrically, like Motherless Brooklyn, Glass and the Death Wish remake. I’ve read a lot about them, however, and they aren’t necessarily anything I want to run out to view.
This one seems to fits the pattern of the rest: all of them productions tailored to feature the popular actor despite his developing aphasia. Willis is on screen in these movies for no more than 15 minutes, even though he is plastered on the cover and used to sell the movie via Redbox, a film pick-up service in the US that is found in places like Wal-Mart, or at super-discount prices at similar shops. There’s been a lot said about whether making these films constituted elder abuse, and conflicting reports on the details. If he was a willing participant and getting a decent payday, I don’t necessarily have an issue with his having done them. If it was a way to get some cash together for his medical care and his family—since his condition may mean not being able to work for the next 30 years—I guess it’s OK.
Apparently Willis got hundreds of thousands, if not a million or two, per film, which was a good chunk of the total budget. He flew in for a day or so (the most being maybe a week—although he was on set for the whole production of Once Upon a Time in Venice back in 2017). Then they fit him in so that he was seated for most of his scenes, with a body double for any kind of action stuff—in the case of Corrective Measures, a pretty obvious body double (who even seemed to have hair, something Willis is let’s say not known for). Reportedly he wore an earwig to have his lines fed to him, and here his performance is really off, to say the least. There was clearly something wrong, and now we know what the issue was following his family’s announcement and his subsequent retirement. Not too long ago, Willis was pretty snappy with his dialogue, so it’s sad to see him just repeating lines without personality to them for the most part. He’s clearly trying, he’s just not there, and it’s strange to witness.
On top of that, in most of Willis’s scenes here he is just there with the crew, giving it a stilted feel. When Rooker, who is generally very good, when they are in the frame together, there seems to be some attempt at chemistry between the two. Those are some of the better bits of the film, as you see both of them try to work with what they have. Willis’s role is essentially a Lux Luthor type who can control the prison with his mind, resulting in mind games between him and the warden.
All of the characters are very similar to comic book villains we’ve seen before, making for a very derivative tale, although there’s an interesting twist at the end. It’s also a little long at 106 minutes, when it would have been better with a tighter cut and a through-line to engage you with the story. Of course, you have to see it as a low-budget film made at the twilight of Bruce Willis’s career, so it is what it is (and it’s said to be one of the better of these). It’s not especially well-shot, and there is some dodgy CGI. But it’s probably not the worst Willis film of the last five years.
It’s a bare-bones disk, for obvious reasons there is no making-of.