Parents' Guide to

Paradise City

By Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 15+

Ambitious but chintzy crime drama has violence, language.

Movie R 2022 92 minutes
Paradise City Movie: Poster

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Beautiful Hawaiian locations, a veteran genre director, and nostalgic stunt casting can't overcome the general low energy level and lazy attitude that permeate this crime drama from start to finish. The credited director on Paradise City is Chuck Russell, whose filmography goes all the way back to A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors and also includes The Mask and The Scorpion King. But any hopes of an extra level of quality are dashed when the name Edward Drake (Cosmic Sin) comes up in the writing credits. And right away the movie reeks of cutting corners. A car crash is simulated with an off-screen "crash" noise, and then there's a pan to the right to show an already stopped and steaming car. Plus, Willis' first few lines of dialogue are hurriedly edited together from whatever good takes they could get from the star, who sadly suffers from aphasia.

The above-the-title billing of Willis and Travolta of course recalls their famous collaboration in Pulp Fiction. They shared only two scenes in that film, but both were memorable and essential. Here, they also share only a couple of scenes, but only one shot appears to include both actors at the same time (and it's a long shot of silhouetted figures on the beach); others are back-and-forth over-the-shoulder shots that could have used stand-ins. So there's really nothing to get excited about. No one else here seems to be too excited either, if the stiff, bored acting is any indication. The only one who seems to be having any fun is Travolta, whose villain character wears frilly shirtsleeves and speaks with a slight Liberace-style inflection -- which could be interpreted as either an interesting character touch or a somewhat crude portrayal of a potentially queer-coded character. Either way, Paradise City isn't really worth a visit.

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