Bruce Willis is the hunted prey in writer-director Edward Drake’s action-thriller, Summit. Willis plays disgraced ex-cop Thomas Malone. He languishes in solitary confinement in an ultra-maximum security prison for murder following a burglary gone wrong. Meanwhile, in the “real” world, there is a desert island where the rich hunt criminals as “game”.
Led by the suspicious company, Apex, Target has recently been weak and its customers are demanding a challenge. After extensive research, Apex Corporation concludes that the only man capable of delivering real excitement to hunters is Thomas Malone. Yes, he may be old, but as a cop he went through the literal psychological and physical wringing – threw the force for a bad temper and all the killing. What makes Malone the perfect prey is how he has escaped death and serious injury time and time again. Apex holographic track master West (Alexia Fast) says “the universe just doesn’t seem capable of killing him.”
The game is simple. Malone is released on the reserve, and if he can survive until evening without being killed, he is a free man. He can also end the game early if he can take out all the hunters, which are Lyle (Lochlyn Munro), Carrion (Corey Large), Jeza (Megan Peta Hill), Ecka (Trevor Gretsky), and the psychotic hunter Rainsford ( Neal McDonough). The odds are intentionally stacked against Malone. Each hunter has access to high-end weapons and vehicles, and thanks to teleportation technology, they can purchase upgrades and ammo on demand. As the hunt begins, Rainsford suggests they all work together to kill old Malone. But instead, the hunters all decide to go it alone. Soon their pride, ambition, lack of confidence and greed take over and the hunters begin to turn on each other.
“…there is a desert island where the rich hunt criminals as “game”…”
Like Drake’s sci-fi thriller cosmic sin, Summit is hosted by its two main stars, Willis and McDonough. As Malone, Willis plays the sympathetic loner who struggles to one day be with his estranged grandchildren. Much of his screen time is spent watching hunters swoop down in the distance. But not to be feared, because Willis gets his big action scene in the third act. It also has a few moments of levity, which is refreshing.
Getting a great cast has its benefits beyond just selling tickets. Veteran actor McDonough is nothing but intimidating every moment he’s on screen as a calm, collected, psychotic and sadistic killer. Its trophy room is a sight you will long forget.
What I appreciate most about the story of Drake and co-writer Corey Large is that, as strange as a hunter’s island is, Summit has the right level of seriousness that keeps him from getting camp and crazy enough to keep him from getting too serious for his own good. Drake masterfully stages each hunter’s final fate and keeps the action flowing. Luckily, the filmmaker is well versed in low-budget action, forcing us to imagine what he could do with a whole lot more money.
We all now know the story of Willis’ retirement. Like the musicals of old, there’s a bit of “dancing” around the die hard star, but he still turns in a hell of a performance in Summit with a punch and a proper independent offering in the Willis barrel.
Summit is available on most video-on-demand platforms, including Amazon Prime Video.