There are times when you watch a critically panned film and find little moments of success or skill, stemming from a filmmaker’s or writer’s or actor’s good intentions. Then there are films like “Cosmic Sin,” which feels intentionally bad on just about every level. Writer/director Edward Drake may just be the American Uwe Boll, making bad films solely for the purpose of being about to do so rather than being able to exploit German tax law. Yes, “Cosmic Sin” is THAT bad, ranking as one of the worst films of its kind in recent memory.
I pride myself in being about to decipher even the most convoluted of plots both good and bad, and I still don’t think I could tell you what this film is actually about. Any plot synopsis or brief recap I could give wouldn’t be from my actual viewing experience, but rather pulled from the Wikipedia page. I simply have no idea what just happened. “Cosmic Sin” is kitchen sink filmmaking, riddled with an incomprehensible narrative, poor writing, and even worse acting from otherwise competent actors.
Drake is no stranger to two things: bad films and even worse films starring Bruce Willis. Predominately a music video director, Drake is an insult to screenwriting, having snagged an Austin Film Festival Award for best Screenplay in 2020. I can only assume that he was able to make it that far on nepotism and not the merits of his work, because having your name attached to “Cosmic Sin” and “Breach” (another massive flop that he also wrote and also stars surprise surprise Bruce Willis) should automatically disqualify you from any all festivals and you should be required to give the award back to someone who better deserves it.
Watching this film and knowing someone saw fit to deem him a competent writer is all the more frustrating when you consider the the very screenplay he won for was never optioned by any major studio. Instead, we get “Cosmic Sin,” a film the feels like it was written by what a 9 year old thinks sci-fi movies are all about.
As mentioned above, this is the second collaboration with the new king of the Geezer Teaser Bruce Willis. Willis seems content to collect his weekly paycheck with little regard for anything else as an actor. Likewise, Blake seems fine with blowing the entire budget on getting 15 minutes of Willis screen time and then scrapping the bottom of the barrel for everything else. Willis seems fine showing up on set for a few hours, spouting off a few lines listlessly, stare at the camera for a few reusable shots and fuck off until the next one of these films goes into production. Willis isn’t even trying anymore, and I don’t just mean with his recent stint of project selection. He literally doesn’t care about “Cosmic Sin,” and his performance is so abysmal that saying he’s phoning it in would be a compliment. It’s one thing to say an actor is just doing it for the paycheck as a sort of hyperbolic critique of a lackluster performance. It’s quite another to literally feel the ambivalence oozing from a performer in every single frame. One could almost excuse it as being a one off, but the list of films like “Cosmic Sin” that “star” Bruce Willis is far longer than any of us would like to admit.
Unfortunately, the rest of the cast is about as good as the script and Willis lets them be. No one does disgruntled soldier quite like Frank Grillo, but there simply isn’t enough of him in “Cosmic Sin.” To be fair, there’s too much of everything in this movie, but Grillo knows what he does well and never really wavers from it. That’s not to say Grillo doesn’t have range, just that he’s limited by both screen time and the script. Frankly (no pun intended this time) everyone is constrained by the script, with dialogue and delivery so off-putting it actually becomes distracting. You should never be able to watch a film and say out loud, “I don’t like the way they talk” and have that be applied to just about every single person with lines.
“Cosmic Sin” sports a cast of capable supporting actors like Adelaide Kane (“Reign“), Perrey Reeves (“Entourage“), and Costas Mandylor (“Saw” franchise) who might as well be mannequins here. It’s a lot of pretty people doing very little of anything else, and unless they decide to follow in Willis’ footsteps, the film should remain an outlier in their filmography. It’s hard to really fault anyone outside of Bruce Willis for their performances as a majority of the issues with the film lie in a script written by toddlers with a narrative that many of the actors probably didn’t even understand at the table read. Things just happen, with trope after trope loosely strung together by familiar faces and little else. This is something that seems to be committed by a lot of films that make this list, and “Cosmic Sin” goes all in on all of the wrong things. What seems to separate good films from bad ones is restraint; filmmakers who recognize that not every idea is a good idea and willing to trim the fat to focus the story being told. Blake uses “Cosmic Sin” as a sort of sci fi experimental canvas, pursuing one bad cliche after another without any regard for how it all comes together.
If you couldn’t tell by now, “Cosmic Sin” more than deserves its 3% on Rotten Tomatoes and may even make the case for 0% at its worst. How it is trending on Netflix and has managed to gain a massive viewership despite being a dumpster fire is beyond me, but I guess people still think “Die Hard” Bruce Willis still exists. Personally, I think McClane is long gone. We”re left with nothing but a shell of a man who’s a nightmare on set but use to be fun to watch.
“Cosmic Sin” is a disaster, and your curiosity of whether or not its as bad as it sounds will only be met with regret that you’ve now seen it and it can be unseen. It’s currently streaming on Netflix.
You’ve been warned.