Tagline: Where the future is your past.
Businessman Julian Michaels (Bruce Willis) has designed the ultimate holiday maker resort: “VICE”, where anything goes and the customers can play out their wildest fantasies with artificial inhabitants who look, think and feel like humans. When an artificial robot (Ambyr Childers) becomes self-aware and escapes, she finds herself caught in the crossfire between Julian’s mercenaries and a cop (Thomas Jane) who is hell-bent on shutting down the corruption of Vice, and stopping the violence once and for all.
Vice is an American science fiction film directed by Brian A. Miller and written by Andre Fabrizio and Jeremy Passmore. The film stars Thomas Jane, Bruce Willis and Ambyr Childers. The shooting of the film had begun on April 3, 2014 in Mobile, Alabama.
On January 21, 2014, Emmett/Furla/Oasis Films was set to produce and finance an action thriller film Vice, Bruce Willis will star in the $15 million budgeted film, which Grindstone / Lionsgate Films will distribute. On February 5, 2014, it was announced that K5 International will be pre-selling the film at Berlin’s European Film Market. The film also stars Thomas Jane and Ambyr Childers. Later on February 13, 2014 it was revealed that the film had been sold in 37 different countries in just under a week.
About The Story and Characters
Thomas Jane (The Punisher), Bruce Willis (Red 2) and Ambyr Childers (2 Guns) keep the audience on their toes and on the edge of their seats in VICE, a science-fiction action film where an artificially engineered woman escapes a hedonistic resort and seeks vengeance on those that imprisoned her.
In a dystopian future, Julian Michaels (Willis) runs Vice, a resort that offers its wealthy clients a chance to live out their wildest and sometimes most violent fantasies. Kelly (Childers), a resort ‘Resident,’ is having her memory re-installed after a rough night with a client but there is a glitch and flashbacks of where she came from help her make a daring escape.
When Roy Tedeschi (Jane), a gruff, gum-shoe detective gets word that an Artificial is on the loose, it’s a race against time to track her down and stop the aberrant behaviors in Vice from becoming the natural order of things. Starring alongside Jane, Willis, and Childers in Vice are Bryan Greenberg, Johnathon Schaech (The Legend of Hercules), and Charlotte Kirk (Non-Stop).
VICE was the perfect script to move Emmett Furla Oasis into the high concept science-fiction action space,” says producer Randall Emmett. “Director Brian Miller has the talent to creatively construct a world so different from the one in which we live, and elicited beautifully nuanced performances from our talented cast including Ambyr, Thomas, and Bruce.
“The concept for VICE came to me because I was thinking about robots, and if we did create artificial intelligence, sexbots would likely be one of the first uses,” suggests writer Jeremy Passmore, recalling when the idea first came to him. “Every time there is advancement in technology the boundaries are immediately pushed. If the robot we create has actually consciousness and could feel every bit of its emotions and its thoughts were every bit as real as ours are, then where do you draw the line? You can’t just create these things and use them as slaves.”
“On the surface, it’s a revenge story about an artificially intelligent being who becomes self-aware for the first time,” begins writer Andre Fabrizio, who shares a love of science-fiction with writing partner Passmore. “On a deeper level I think what appealed to Jeremy and I was more the inevitability of artificial intelligence and how it should be treated as well as the fact that there is an assumption that artificial intelligence shouldn’t be viewed with the same rights.”
“The idea of a computer, or artificially created machine becoming self-aware is a very real prospect,” adds Passmore. “Nobody really knows where that is going to lead so that is a very deep vein to be mined in terms of science fiction because there are many possibilities and I think we chose one where it wasn’t really placing a judgment, but it was more about the morality of what makes something alive and what kind of rights does a being that is self-aware have intrinsically.”
“Julian Michaels’ corporation has built Vice, a resort for the wealthy where they can do anything that you could possibly imagine, even murder, rape, or kill because the permanent Residents are artificial, cloned from human DNA and built on endoskeletons,” begins director Brian A. Miller.
“The story revolves around a Resident that starts having memories of horrible things that have happened to her and she breaks out, only to discover the original creator of ‘Artificials’ and once they meet they decide to work together to take down Vice once and for all. I was immediately attracted to the script because of the way it takes a dystopian future and combines it with a perfect America we no longer have, and really turns it on its axis,” says Miller, a confessed sci-fi buff who grew up on BLADE RUNNER, METROPOLIS and the STAR WARS trilogy.
“Vice was built in the middle of a city and the problem is that people go in there and get their freak on, do all this crazy stuff, and then come back outside and think, ‘Fuck it! I can get away with anything in Vice so why can’t I do it out here,'” begins Thomas Jane who plays detective Roy Tedeschi. The authorities are kind of hands off with Julian’s creation because of all the tax revenue the resort generates. “But crime goes through the roof in my city and Roy gets a briar stuck up his ass about this Vice place. He is intent on shutting it down, bringing the place to its knees or blowing it up, whatever he can get away with.”
“I like these kind of characters, archaic guys who are living in an old world. It’s the old world versus the new world type of thing,” continues Jane. “Roy’s the kind of guy that if four bullets will do it, he will use them. He will never use just one; if he can empty a clip into you, why would he use just one?” “Thomas is one of those very unique, eclectic actors that shows up on set and he breathes life into the character,” adds Miller. “He creates actions, movements, words, and situations that really take Roy to the next level; when you put Thomas in one of those action sequences. He just lights it on fire!”
“I play Kelly, an Artificial or an android living every day in a continuous loop,” explains Ambyr Childers. “Myself and all the other androids are reset every 24 hours. Every night when we go to bed, a bracelet activates so we cannot remember but the humans can so they easily recognize the androids. Kelly has a few glitches in her system and she breaks away and ends up wanting to take down Vice.”
“It took us a couple of days to truly discover the character together and then play off that,” explained Miller of his work with Childers. “Once we found the essence of who Kelly was, we were able to expand upon it from scene to scene. For the residents of Vice every day is the same but they don’t know that. So when Kelly starts growing you see the evolution of that character, she is learning bit-by-bit. It’s so interesting to have such a talented young actress that as you pull the string it takes you from one scene to the next. You’re growing with her, learning as she’s evolving all the way throughout the process. Ambyr just knocked it out of the park!”
Evan (Greenberg) was a top bio-mechanical engineer at a robotics firm bought out a decade ago by Julian. “I helped engineer the Artificials and my intentions were good, but Julian exploited the Artificials for the wrong reasons,” explains Bryan Greenberg whose character Evan feels guilty for what Kelly has become. “It’s a very complicated relationship between Evan and Kelly because he created her in the image of his dying wife. He’s very conflicted because when he looks at her he sees his wife but he knows it’s not her. She can be so much more than just a Vice pleasure-bot and he wants to help her. Evan is a very rich character and there were so many layers to play with.”
“Ambyr is solid and really carries this film,” continues Greenberg, of his screen partner’s moving performance. “I remember the first scene we did and she just had tears coming down her eyes and I thought, ‘Wow you got it! This is going to be good!’ I loved working with her and I think the audience is going to love watching her.”
“I was attracted to the story, the action and the arc of the characters, that is really what I was looking for as a director,” concludes Miller. “People nowadays live their lives vicariously through technology or social media. They’ve forgotten about interaction between human beings. I think people will relate to the character and the bureaucracy of what is going on in this film, including government that allows corporations more control without regulation.”
About the Production
Returning to shoot a second feature film in Alabama, director Brian Miller raised eyebrows when he told people it was a science-fiction movie. “Mobile, Alabama had that eclectic feel and I was certain we could shoot both parts of VICE’s worlds there,” affirms Miller, of the story that takes place in a pristine fantasy world within a dystopian future.
“The older architecture in the city melded really well into a dystopian reality of the future,” continues Miller, who admits that he began mentally scouting VICE locations while filming THE PRINCE. “There are also technology centers similar to those you see in huge cities throughout the world that offered the incredibly high-tech facilities and environments that we needed to transport the audience into the future.”
Having recently worked in Mobile with Brian on THE PRINCE, production designer Nate Jones felt more relaxed with the monumental task of shooting a science fiction film in the city. “I was familiar with the town, but it didn’t make the design any easier, as this movie is set in a quasi-alternate reality future,” recalls the designer, who jumped at the chance to reteam with Miller as the two share a love of futuristic Blade Runner-type movies. “I actually read a lot of obscure blogs and end-of-the-world literature online, taking in how writers perceive a grim apocalyptic future of our world. I then tried to create that sense of hopelessness and despair that could quietly sit in the background not needing to take center stage over the main focus of the movie, yet helping convey a world strictly made up of the haves and have-nots.”
The Vice resort was a composite of several locations, all within minutes of each other. “Futuristic architecture is hard to find in any city, but Brian and I were definitely thinking about distance when we scouted for the movie,” recalls Jones. “We wanted to try and spend the most time on filming not traveling to a distant location. We also were trying to create a claustrophobic city environment, so the more everything condensed the better.”
Mobile’s Convention Center served as the entrance to Julian Michael’s Vegas-like decadent utopian paradise with its massive foyer; GulfQuest’s National Maritime Museum at Battleship Park, a ninety-thousand square foot concrete and glass structure shaped like a vessel heading out to sea was used for the docks where Evan hopes to see Kelly off to the tech-free zone of St. Helena in the Caribbean. The Museum was also utilized as the location for the corporate offices and control center scenes, where life inside Vice is monitored down to the most minute details like the Artificials’ heartbeat and vital signs. The lush urban streets and interior premier zone of Vice were filmed at the Renaissance Mobile Riverview Plaza Hotel at Dauphine St.
The cathedral of Kelly’s dreams and where she eventually meets Evan, was shot in part at The Temple Downtown. The Egyptian Revival style building was formerly a Scottish Rite Temple, and it’s battered walls that taper upward from a wide base like a pylon surround a doorway inspired by the Bab el’Adb Gate, a monumental stone doorway at Egypt’s Karnak Temple complex and served as the cathedral’s façade a beacon in the darkness for the young woman who eventually triumphs.
New to Miller’s team is costume designer Bonnie Stauch. “The script was exciting and diverse, but admittedly it was Brian’s enthusiasm and commitment to the project that really drew me to it,” says Stauch, who was also looking forward to another opportunity to work with Bruce Willis. “When I first arrived in Mobile, Brian confirmed what I already suspected: he is a dynamic force and extremely dedicated to the film. He had created a ‘look book’ of his artistic vision and we spoke at length about the two worlds our characters would be living in, including palette and texture, economic class structure and despair. As a general rule, the costumes for the residents and guests of Vice fell into a cool palette of grays, whites and blacks, where the outside world was warmer with sepias, browns, creams, and olive greens. These costumes were less structured, worn and distressed.”
“Along with our production designer and cinematographer, I had an opportunity to create a variety of looks for the many characters throughout the film,” continues Stauch. “I was really pleased with the costume for Ambyr’s character, Kelly. Her silhouette was clean and modern for the not too distant future. I decided on a black jacket and pant which although simple in design, featured many of the unique details I was looking for: asymmetrical zipper lines, contrasting black knit sleeves to the leather body of the jacket and leather trim on the pant. Her look was completed with the perfect pair of black leather boots to the knee, a signature ‘bracelet’ identifying her as a Resident of Vice from props, and hair and make-up’s dramatic sleek hairstyle and smoky eye. It was great fun working with the various departments to create her signature look. Ambyr’s costume also worked well with all the dynamic fighting and running both she and her stunt double had to accomplish!”
On his and Miller’s second teaming with cinematographer Yaron Levy, Jones recalls that the two “talked in depth about camera angles and how and when to create pressure moments.” They took their color and lighting scheme beyond anything they’ve ever worked on together, and Jones admitted “They feel more comfortable pushing each other even further than I would a stranger.” VICE shot on location for three weeks in Mobile, Alabama.
Directed by: Brian A Miller
Starring: Thomas Jane, Bruce Willis, Ambyr Childers, Bryan Greenberg, Johnathon Schaech, Charlotte Kirk, Lydia Hull
Screenplay by: Andre Fabrizio, Jeremy Passmore
Production Design by: Nate Jones
Cinematography by: Yaron Levy
Film Editing by: Paul Harb, Rick Shaine
Costume Design by: Bonnie Stauch
Set Decoration by: Jessica Navran
Music by: Hybrid
MPAA Rating: R for violence, language and some sexual content / nudity
Studio: Lionsgate Films
Release Date: January 16, 2015