Wire Room is a crooked cop action drama that plays out like low-budget, straight-to-VHS schlock from decades past.
Wire Room is to be one of the final films in Bruce Willis’ storied career, but his billing on the poster represents a cameo, at best. This incoherent thriller directed by Matt Eskandari (his fourth and final dud with Willis) hinges on a tired locked-room scenario, a concept which mostly finds lead Kevin Dillon alternately muttering and yelling narration to himself alone in a server room. A catastrophically bad first day at the office unveils a conspiracy of bad police who will stop at nothing to eliminate witnesses and evidence. Wire Room is a crooked cop action drama that plays out like a low-budget, straight-to-VHS schlock from decades past.
Dillon plays Special Agent Justin Rosa, a new transfer to the Homeland Security Investigations’ titular wire room for third shift. A title card explains what exactly a “wire room” is, with all the posed gravitas of a class presentation which begins, “Webster’s dictionary defines….” Before the title is a prolonged taste of the film’s finale, stuttered footage which sees Rosa and Agent Shane Mueller (Willis) fighting off waves of faceless SWAT officers. This is the film spoiling its own ending for no apparent reason, and it doesn’t get any better from there.
Rosa’s first wire room shift proves coincidentally eventful, as his myriad security cameras zero in on cartel member Eddie (Oliver Trevena) relaxing in his lavish estate, completely unaware that the feds have some four dozen cameras scattered throughout. Eddie lives tucked away in luxury with three women and a minor arsenal, and Mueller’s been watching him for ages in hopes of closing his final case before retirement. He’s convinced that Eddie protects himself with valuable dirt on some bad police, but he’s never showed his hand to the cameras. Tonight, however, may be Eddie’s last stand, with a cadre of cops in tactical gear descending on his hideout. In the first third of Wire Room, Rosa breaks protocol and dials his phone, revealing to Eddie that his house is bugged but potentially saving his life in the process.
Those wishing to thoughtfully linger on one of Willis’ cinematic swan songs may as well tear the band-aid off quickly here, as his character shows up disoriented in the first few minutes of Wire Room and then promptly checks out of the rest of the film to get drunk at a bar. Willis is on camera for approximately five or six of the film’s 97 minutes and barely ever shares a single frame with another actor. Instead, the audience gets an uncomfortably long sequence where Dillon is left to gesture and respond to an off-camera Willis, even while the character is meant to be seated in the same room. It comes off as an unintentionally well-produced TikTok gag — which isn’t to say that Dillon fails in what Wire Room asks of him. The Entourage star fills every moment with tired scraggly energy, summoning whatever faint charm he can muster while rarely enjoying the privilege of a scene partner. His desperation for Mueller to return practically reads as Dillon begging Willis back into his own movie, which is at least somewhat amusing on its own.
The crooked cops enter and invade Wire Room’s drab sets like faceless armored cannon fodder in a video game, a sensibility only emphasized when seen through the various security cams at Eddie’s estate. The film never makes sense of how Rosa’s minimally informative instruction saves Eddie time and again, or what these villains really intend to do after annexing a federal building by murderous force in broad daylight. A hostage is taken at one point, then inexplicably executed the next. Eddie uses a corpse as a decoy of himself to get the drop on two attackers, who somehow fail to realize they were duped even after dragging it behind them. Dillon’s character even distracts an enemy with a baseball in a stealth gameplay move straight out of Metal Gear Solid.
Wire Room feels like a bad direct-to-VHS tape movie, and the bargain bin CGI secures that evaluation, where every bloody headshot is cartoonishly rendered, and even smoking buildings and computers look like looping damage effects from late-2000s Call of Duty. Almost every aspect of Wire Room is similarly shabby and crude, a sad, embarrassing film to serve as the end to the pairing of Eskandari and Willis.
Wire Room released in limited theaters and began streaming on demand September 2. The film is 97 minutes long and is rated R for strong violence and pervasive language.