Created by Mark Cullen and Robb Cullen
“Never mess with a man’s dog.”
— the film’s tagline
Once Upon a Time in Venice is a pointless slice of straight-to-streaming cheese starring Bruce Willis; the cinematic equivalent of a self-published novel by an enthusiastic wannabe whose only reference point seems to be other straight-to-streaming crime movies starring Bruce Willis.
A disappointment any way you phone it in. Willis has played this sort of hard-boiled wiseass often, and to usually much greater effect. Here, he sleepwalks through a screenplay that’s barely worth staying awake for: he plays a Venice Beach private eye and inexplicably popular man about town STEVE FORD on the hunt for — wait for it — his missing dog Buddy.
Seems Buddy was accidentally snatched by some local thugs in a drug deal gone wrong with another gang, and Steve teams up with their leader Spyder (Jason Momoa) to retreive the stolen drugs and money, in exchange for the missing pooch.
Guns go off, things blow up, colurful characters abound, and Willis smirks and wisecracks his way through this misguided mess on auto-pilot, but none of it really hits the mark. It’s too goofy (a nude skateboard chase through the streets at midnight?) to be taken seriously — and too violent to be dismissed as a lark.
This publicity calls it a “bullet-ridden action-comedy that shows just how far one man will go for his dog,” but maybe it just displays how far an aging action movie star will go for the ka-ching.
Not even the appearance of John Goodman as Ford’s best friend (next to Buddy) can save this turkey. One Amazon critic even slammed it as “Anti-Christ type of entertainment,” and I may not go that far, but it sure is a helluva waste of time.
At least Buddy was cute.
- ONCE UPON A TIME IN VENICE | Buy this DVD | Buy the Buu-Ray | Watch it now
(2017, Voltage Pictures)
Screenplay by Mark Cullen and Robb Cullen
Directed by Mark Cullen
Starring Bruce Willis as STEVE FORD
Also starring John Goodman, Jason Momoa, Famke Janssen, Thomas Middleditch, Emily Robinson, Jessica Gomes, Kaleti Williams, Myles Humphus,
and Adam Goldberg as Lew the Jew
- This Turkey for Hire
The Worst and Most Disappointing P.I. Films