Wire Room (2022)
Directed by Matt Eskanderi
Written by Brandon Stiefer
Starring Bruce Willis, Kevin Dillon
Release Date September 2nd, 2022
Before I can tackle criticism of the new movie Wire Room starring Bruce Willis I must address the elephant in the room. In previous reviews of the Bruce Willis movies Midnight in the Switchgrass and American Siege, I criticized Willis for appearing disinterested, bored and lazy. Well, since those reviews came out it was revealed that for the past few years Willis has been working through a condition called Aphasia.
Aphasia is a brain injury often associated with head injuries or stroke. It’s unknown when Bruce Willis first became afflicted with aphasia but it was before his recent spate of direct to streaming movies where Willis’ name value is more important than his performance. It’s been since at least 2016 that Willis began showing up in movies that paid him exorbitant amounts of money for glorified cameos. And since 2018 we’ve had rumors of Willis having to be fed lines through an earpiece because he had been unwilling or perhaps unable to read and retain his lines.
In March of this year, 2022, for those reading in the future, Bruce Willis retired from acting to focus on treatment for aphasia, speech therapy being the most common treatment. Whether that means there is hope for Willis to get back the memory and speech that has declined since he was first diagnosed, I have no idea. Like most people, Willis’s diagnosis is my first exposure to aphasia. It’s clear that Willis was able to manage with it for some time, under the cloistered, heavily managed care of his film entourage.
When Willis retired in March it was revealed that he still had three more movies in the pipeline. One of those three movies is called Wire Room and this is supposed to be a review of that movie. Okay, this is a review of Wire Room but I’d rather not spend much time talking about Wire Room as it is yet another beyond silly, deeply embarrassing film in which Willis’ presence is clumsily worked around while other lesser actors leech off of his star power.
In the case of Wire Room that leech is Kevin Dillon. The former Entourage star is the latest to join the Bruce Willis repertory theater troupe. It’s the second time this year that Dillon has co-starred with Willis having shared ever so brief screen time with Willis and Willis’ other favorite leech, Frank Grillo, in the abysmal action movie, A Day to Die. That groan you heard was me realizing how much even the title of that film is a leech, that title leeches off of Willis' A Good Day to Die Hard.
Wire Room, right, I keep forgetting that this is a review of Wire Room. That’s likely because there isn’t much to be said about Wire Room. The premise has Kevin Dillon playing a recent transfer from the Secret Service to the FBI Wire Room, a sideways career move, or so we are told. The Wire Room is where agents monitor wiretaps on criminals. In this case, the criminal in question is the head of a weapons smuggling ring.
Despite having almost zero experience in this technical field and the job involving a lot of computers, Dillon’s character is left alone to monitor the wire room in an almost entirely empty FBI office. This is an important detail because the film opens on a flash forward to Dillon and Willis, who plays his new boss, battling an army of baddies in SWAT Team gear. The rest of the movie is clumsily about how we got here with Dillon’s neophyte agent just happening to be on duty on the one night when the subject of this wiretap is to be kidnapped or killed by his heretofore unknown partner, a corrupt member of local law enforcement.
Wire Room is structured poorly, giving us the end of the movie action scene at the start of the film and delivering a remarkably dimwitted and dull series of events that lead to this shootout scenario. Along the way, Willis leaves the movie to go get drunk at a bar and occasionally answer a call from Dillon’s character so he can ignore Dillon’s concerns and show up just in time for the climactic shootout.
I don't want to say too much about Willis’ performance, it feels uncharitable given the circumstance. It’s clear that he is struggling. He’s present and giving it his best shot but it’s very clear having lines fed to him in an earpiece is a struggle that neither he or the makers of Wire Room are capable of hiding with editing or any other cinematic technique. His reactions and timing are off, his eyes are glazed over, and it’s kind of hard to watch.
I know a lot of people want to speculate that Willis is being exploited but I can’t speak to that. I can see a man of Willis’ well known ego insisting on fighting his condition by continuing to work and I can see the argument that he’s being pushed to continue working by a number of hangers on and business partners. It’s not for you or I to say whether Bruce Willis is being exploited or exploiting himself. Regardless of his condition, he’s not being well cared for on screen in Wire Room where his decline is obvious and the performance is a poignant source of distraction.
That Wire Room is a bad movie is not Willis’ fault, he’s not on screen long enough to affect the movie all that much. It’s clear that the dilettante producers still eager to sell movies on Willis’ name value could care less if Wire Room or any late period Willis movie is any good. Watching the makers of Wire Room clumsily shuffle Willis on and off screen amid an action movie that is at times chaotic and silly and often downright boring, is pretty much par for the course for the late period of Willis’s career.
Kevin Dillon is purely awful in Wire Room. Tasked with trying to make sense of the senseless plot of Wire Room, Dillon is entirely overmatched. Dillon’s character appears to push the plot forward by making every wrong decision motivated only by ignorance. When he isn’t pushing the plot forward with mistakes he’s the center of montages that show Wire Room duty to be remarkably boring for the most part. There is a montage that appears to last days, though it’s probably only four or five minutes, that shows him basically babysitting a computer that does all of the work for him, recording the video and phone calls of the criminal being wiretapped.
Dillon paces, spins in a chair, tosses a baseball and the more bored his character is, the more bored we are. Why anyone thought a lengthy boredom montage was a good idea for a cheap action movie is anyone’s guess. This boredom montage however, is more effective than anything else in Wire Room. It’s exactly what it appears to be, a montage of remarkable boredom. The rest of the movie is chaotic, clumsy and poorly crafted. The boredom montage is arguably the best example of filmmaking in all of Wire Room.
And that’s pretty much what you need to know about Wire Room. It’s yet another Bruce Willis movie that you should skip out of respect for the actor and respect for your own precious time. Wire Room is being released direct to streaming rental services on September 2nd, 2022.
Find my archive of reviews of far better Bruce Willis movies on my archive blog. At SeanattheMovies.Blogspot.com I have collected nearly 2000 movie reviews written and recorded in the past 20 plus years I have spent writing online. You can also follow me on Twitter @PodcastSean and for the Archive blog @SeanattheMovies. You can also hear me talk about movies on the Everyone’s a Critic Movie Review Podcast on your favorite podcasting app. If you enjoyed reading this consider, tipping me below or pledging to support my writing on a monthly basis. Thanks!