In March 2022, Bruce Willis’ family announced the beloved actor’s retirement after being diagnosed with aphasia, a condition that affects language cognition. For the last few years, Willis’ cinematic output has been brief roles in VOD films such as this, and critics – myself included, I regret to admit – were always quick to pan his performances. Understanding what we know now about his condition, his performance in Corrective Measures will be only briefly mentioned – and, out of respect, will not be victim to any undue trashing. Thank you.
Based on the graphic novel of the same name by Grant Chastain, Corrective Measures begins as we join ‘Payback’ (Dan Payne), a criminal who finds himself in the world’s most secure prison. The facility, designed to house superpowered villains and overseen by the corrupt Warden Devlin (Michael Rooker), is home to The Lobe (Bruce Willis) who can control minds, and electricity-throwing mutant The Conductor (Tom Cavanagh), among others.
Feeling like an amalgamation of X-Men mutations and the villainous Suicide Squad, Corrective Measures certainly wears its influences on its sleeve. Here is a film that oozes comic book style while – presumably due to budgetary limitations – keeping most of its drama and indeed action very human. The film more closely follows the structure of an attempted arthouse prison ensemble drama while occasionally giving us some monstrous visuals and thrills as it puts the super in supernatural.
Thankfully though, the drama around the action is largely well-played and compelling – here is a film that doesn’t feel as cheap and nasty as the usual direct-to-video fare, with Michael Rooker’s warden chewing the scenery throughout as he lends his usual sinister menace to proceedings. Willis, although as noted above not firing on all cylinders, delivers a subtle and effective performance, stealing each scene he is in. Looking ahead at Willis’ upcoming filmography, there is still a large number of direct-to-video films coming up from him and it’s likely they will become more difficult to watch. But he will always have an unspeakable star quality and a presence that elevates every project he is in.
Corrective Measures is hardly going to be remembered as a highpoint in the careers of any involved or certainly the genre, but there’s a lot to like here that keeps the film interesting and entertaining for its 107 mins. Recommended, with the caveat that its budget limitations and direct-to-video trappings are very apparent.