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Caffeinated Clint’s seen Bruce Willis’s upcoming actioner Catch .44

Louisiana has suffered enough in recent years, why on earth does Hollywood feel the need to roll the garbage truck up upon its doors and spread trash upon its newly-dried boat ramps?

I’ll tell you why : like an innocent school girl who catches the eye of an plump-pantsed sugar daddy, Hollywood sees Louisiana as somewhere it can take advantage of and then consequently split.

And the south, being so nice and all, “don’t be” discriminating against refuse – sadly.

Over the past few years there’s been an influx of movies heading down to Louisiana to shoot movies. And it’s usually got nothing to do with the location – quite simply, with the tax incentives and cheaper labour, it’s as cheap as chips to make a movie in Louisiana. The only thing I can really think of in recent years that took true advantage of the surroundings, and weaved Louisiana’s beautiful though sodden terrain into the film, is Werner Herzog’s underrated “Bad Lieutenant”. The rest? Not so much about the place as they are the price.

Usually action movies, and frequently with Cuba Gooding Jr, Curtis 50 Cent Jackson and/or Val Kilmer in the lead, these Louisana-abusin’ efforts are near always generic home video fodder that are easy to market and even easier to make.  I guess you can’t blame the producers for going that route, filmmaking is a business after all, just sad that for every “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil” or “Drive Angry” there are twenty “Streets of Blood”‘s ready to rear [Cuba’s floating or someone else’s] head.

What’s changed though is the statue of on camera talent willing to appear in these films. No longer is 50 Cent getting all the action down south, but superstars like Bruce Willis!

Yes, David Addison is now moonlighting as a straight-to-video day player!

Willis, at one time one of the more dependable names in action cinema, has now slept walked through a couple of these DTV efforts. Whoever thought the star of blockbusters like ”Die Hard” and ”Armageddon” could be bought so easily? I sure didn’t. But obviously he can be. “Set-Up” (which filmed in Michigan) and now “Catch 44”; what next? a role in a “G.I Joe” sequel? (Yup, currently filming in Louisiana).

These films have nothing to offer Willis, let alone his fans, so it’s gotta be about making some quick, solid cash. And if that’s true, wow.. How depressing. Willis is a good actor but a couple more of these and he’ll be joining  Steven Seagal and Jean-Claude Van Damme at camp home video (and “Die Hard 4” is going to begin to gain love among the community… if only because it’ll be one of the last watchable flicks Willis did before he was lured to lazyland).

But not only does Willis mortify himself by fronting up for such pedestrian entertainment, but he then, in the case of “Case .44” gives the production the OK to use his cover of “Respect Yourself”. Remember it?

Furthermore, characters in the film mention “Bruce Willis” by name, with one of them threatening to toss the tape of him singing his Moonlighting-era music release out the window. What the heck!?

And a few minutes later, there’s Willis playing a character in the movie – though one that auspiciously appears only on phone or in one or two interior locations. Can you say shoehorned?

Big mistake though having Willis appear as a character in a movie that is set in a world where Bruce Willis is a well-known actor (and sometime singer). Takes one out of the.. Wait, who am I kidding? I was never in the movie to be taken out of it.

I should probably tell you what “Catch .44” is about, right?

Imagine those “Raiders” kids shooting their own backyard version of “Pulp Fiction” – interweaving storylines, lots of jumping back and forward, old school jukebox tunes, ambitious edits and credit sequences. That’s pretty much it.

The story, sort of a compilation of the diner scenes from “Pulp Fiction” and the stand-off scenes from “Reservoir Dogs”, fixes on three pretty stripper ladies (Malin Akerman, Nikki Reed, Deborah Ann Woll) who hatch a plan to rob an i-40 (much like Honey and Pumpkin in Tarantino’s film) – but of the coke there, not the loot.

Willis plays their boss, an ugly-looking deadhead drug baron. He pops up for a scene at the start, middle and end – but that’s enough to put him on the cover.

But then there’s Oscar Winner Forest Whitaker, who appears here in an even bigger role than Willis! The actor going to television with ”Criminal Minds”, so soon after winning the statue for “Last King of Scotland”, was a head scratcher enough. Now he’s appearing in low- budget ‘Cuba should’ve done this’ fare!?

Considering the guy knocked back a chance to appear in ”The Expendables”, one can only assume there was more money to go around on this production. The spare loot paid for the once-fussy actor to do time as a murderer who ends up at the i-40 – dressed in stolen police uniform – and gets caught up in the stand-off. Whitaker’s part in “Species” is something for the actor to now be prouder of.

Some of the others in the film you almost expect to see here – Brad Dourif, Malin Akerman, a pre ”True Blood” Deborah Ann Woll – but Wills and Whitaker? Sadder than a starving, floating fish.

To be fair, ”Catch 44” isn’t the worst of these Randall Emmett (he makes all the all-star muscle movies) productions efforts — you can tell writer/director Aaron Harvey did put some work into the screenplay. Unfortunately there’s not enough originality in it though, it plays like a rip-off of every Tarantino movie under the sun (and to an extent ”No Country for Old Men” – Whitaker playing Javier Bardem’s gypsy murderer) – and having Bruce Willis, a cast member of “Pulp Fiction”, in it might hurt it more than help because it’s a constant reminder of just how much better Tarantino’s film was.

So in all, “Catch .44”  writer and director Harvey shows promise (just ban him from watching any other films for a couple of weeks before he plans to write a script), and the films financer and producer Megan Ellison has clearly gone onto bigger things (“I now own the Terminator franchise! Yeehaaa!”), but as these guys make their steady steps up the ladder, we have to witness the sad slide down of two of today’s best actors.

And they said getting his dick out in “Color of Night” would be Bruce Willis’s lowest moment.

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