Ian Swan (Bruce Willis) is a highly skilled bounty hunter. The film opens with Ian successfully capturing a mysterious person on a nearby beach; however, the arrest is short-lived. Ian is soon surrounded by armed men and shot, falling into the water. Cutting to another character, we meet Robbie (Stephen Dorff), a bounty hunter working on a new case for Maui P.D. While tracking down and arresting a man who skipped bail, Robbie meets a fellow bounty hunter named Ryan Swan (Blake Jenner), the son of the legendary Ian Swan.
Discussions between Robbie and Ryan reveal that Robbie used to work closely with Ian and the two were once partners in the bounty-hunting game. It’s been ten years since Robbie has heard from Ian and the last he heard of him was that Ian was working on a massive bounty hunt before he was gunned down. Ryan is still seeking answers concerning his father’s mysterious and brutal murder. He believes whoever his father was after is still roaming around Hawaii and intends to capture and bring them to justice. Robbie decides to join Ian on his quest for revenge, and if successful, they can split the bounty rewards in half. Now Robbie and Ian begin to work their way into the dangerous world of crime together, hoping to deliver vengeance on a powerful broker named Buckley (John Travolta).
Paradise City is best described as a thriller with a few action moments. The visuals and style attempt to look generally both gritty and violent, with multiple moments of shaky camera, which I found ruined certain scenes. The dialogue is filled with laughable and cringeworthy moments. Key characters talking about their coffee, lack of sleep from the night before, and even a bargain they found on Amazon are examples of some of the pointless babble throughout. Many scenes felt as though they served no fundamental purpose, making it a challenge to take this film seriously.
When it comes to performances, it’s all disappointing, particularly from John Travolta. His introduction as a powerful broker is both cringe-worthy and highly laughable. My biggest put-off is the unusual high-pitched voice the actor puts on whenever he speaks, almost as if he sipped some helium before going on-screen. Bruce Willis fans again will be saddened to find the actor serves a small role in the entire film despite being second billing on the poster. The best performance you’ll witness here is Stephen Dorff as Robbie. Sure, a lot of his one-liners and tough talk are a bit eye-rolling, but I can’t deny he’s significantly better than anything else in the film. Plus the actor seems to be having fun with a nice touch of confidence.
Overall, when you hear of a film that reunites actors John Travolta and Bruce Willis on the big screen, it sounds promising, right? But sadly, this is not the case. Everything about this film is a significant disappointment. It’s a weak thriller hinging on an uninteresting and bland plot. Performances are laughable and terrible. John Travolta has a fast-paced helium-sounding voice and side actors are flat and extremely emotionless. The best is actor Stephen Dorff who accepts the film with confidence and fun. Lines of dialogue are continually eye-rolling with bad guys talking about their cup of coffee in pointless babble. If you are seeking any form of paradise, you won’t find it here.