TERM LIFE – Film Review

Everyone wants Nick (Vince Vaughn) dead. A desperate man, Nick takes out a life insurance policy on himself, payable to his estranged daughter (Hailee Steinfeld). But the policy doesn’t take effect for twenty one days and he might not live that long.

Recently, there hasn’t really been a whole lot of new release movies. This past week we had Scoob! but besides that, there really isn’t that many new release movie options for people at home to watch.

So, I figured, why not go ahead and watch some Hailee Steinfeld films that I have not seen before. She is one of my favorite actresses of all time and I believe that she is one of the strongest actresses of our generation. With that being said though, I haven’t seen all of her movies.

I did something similar to this a few months ago, too. At the start of the year, I went ahead and binged every single Florence Pugh film ever released and I had a complete blast doing it. Since there isn’t anything else to do right now, I will start my Hailee Steinfeld binge beginning today, starting with Term Life.

Sadly though, this Steinfeld movie marathon is not off to a good start. Peter Billingsley’s Term Life is a drastically boring film for the most part and doesn’t have anything new or exciting to offer. It’s unfortunate because this movie was really doomed from the start. The premise is such a tired and generic idea to begin with. But even though this concept is terribly bland to begin with, with the right screenwriter, this could have been at the most, a decently fun and enjoyable film.

It starts off with Vince Vaughn’s character Nick spouting out endless bits of expository dialogue, complete with an outdated 90s-esque montage sequence that feels so recycled. The entire first act is one of the biggest problems here. It’s essentially non-stop exposition with nothing of genuine curiosity being built or earned. It would have been nice to have gotten some visual storytelling here, but it’s practically nonexistent in this script.

Vince Vaughn (left) as Nick Barrow and Hailee Steinfeld (right) as Cate Barrow in Term Life (2016).

Gratefully though, the second and third acts do pick up speed quite a bit and manage to deliver some relatively fun and entertaining action sequences. As enjoyable as these final two acts are though, it still suffers from the exposition and weak storytelling. We are never given a good reason to care for our lead protagonist, and as a result, these action sequences feel flat.

But easily the strongest aspect to Term Life is the dynamic between Vince Vaughn’s Nick and Hailee Steinfeld’s Cate. For the longest time, they are at odds with one another. Cate doesn’t really get along with Nick, her father, that well at all. So much so in fact that she never actually refers to him as “dad” or “father” but rather Nick. But as things increasingly get worse for the pair, they quickly learn that the only way they can survive is if they work with one another.

The two have to try their hardest to figure out their differences and talk things out, making for a genuinely entertaining and oftentimes sweet dynamic. Plus, the performances from both of these actors are terrific. Vaughn does a great job at portraying a father that just wants to do his best to protect his daughter. Steinfeld similarly does an excellent job at portraying a young teenager who feels lost in the world and doesn’t have anybody to turn to.

But as a whole, this movie just isn’t worth checking out sadly. It may have some saving graces such as the performances and some of the action scenes later on, but it’s story is far too weak and expository to even remotely care about anything.

Vince Vaughn and Hailee Steinfeld deliver strong performances in Term Life, an otherwise tragically generic crime-drama filled with endless amounts of exposition.

Overall Grade: C

MPAA Rating: R for violence, and language including a sexual reference

Cast: Vince Vaughn, Hailee Steinfeld, Bill Paxton, Jonathan Banks, Mike Epps, Jordi Mollà, Shea Whigham, William Levy, Taraji P. Henson, Annabeth Gish, Terrence Howard

Directed by: Peter Billingsley

Distributed by: Focus World

Release Date: April 29, 2016

Running Time: 93 minutes

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