Directed By: Tibor Takács
Starring: Christian Slater, Cuba Gooding Jr., Al Madrigal, Sarah Ann Schultz, Christa Campbell, Robert Giardina
Wes Wilson is on top of the world; his first book, a self help relationship book extolling the virtues of honesty, has just cracked the top ten bestsellers list, he’s just proposed to the love of his life and best of all she’s just said yes. As you can guess from the title though, the good times, they do not last.
After ducking out of Wes’s bestseller party, he and his fiancée, Sam, are attacked in the parking garage. Wes is knocked senseless, a cop is shot, an elderly couple is frightened and Sam is abducted. Weeks go by and the only trace of Sam (Sarah Ann Schultz) that’s found is her car with some of her blood in it. A year later Wes, (Christian Slater), is just starting to get back on his feet, including meeting a new girlfriend Nicole, (Christa Campbell), when odd facts begin to surface about his dead fiancée. First, there’s Sam’s lawyer who contacts him out of the blue about a safety deposit box in Spokane and the secret room he finds in the cellar stockpiled with guns and passports. In order to clear things up, Wes and Nicole head to Spokane hoping they can find some answers in the safe deposit box. In Spokane, Wes bumps into Sam’s old employer, Issac, played by Cuba Gooding Jr., who it turns out is also interested in whatever it is that Sam had stashed in the safety deposit box before her disappearance.
So that’s the premise. It’s got a neat little twist built right in. The guy who writes a bestselling book about being honest in a relationship ends up engaged to a woman who has been lying to him from the start. There’s a good movie in there, you could take it in any number of directions and therein lies the problem, they do. The cover art sets you up for a suspense thriller type of movie, after the credits roll you’re expecting some kind of caper movie, the credits at least are great. One minute the score is dark and brooding and your thinking suspense thriller then some upbeat Spanish flavored song will play and you’re swinging back to zany caper movie. Often, it even seems like the actors didn’t know what kind of movie they were making, during the climatic chase scene Christian Slater is playing it completely over the top, while Sarah Ann Schultz is playing it straight action thriller. It’s really a shame, if the filmmakers could have zeroed in on a tone and stuck with it this could have been at least a good movie.
The video is presented in wide screen format and it looks good, I never noticed any more or other compression artifacts, but some of the darker scenes have a little grain which clashes a bit with the well lit scenes. Sometimes it works other times it doesn’t. There is not any blooming of reds or oranges to distract but there are a lot of scenes with blown out highlights, but again this is more of a stylistic touch than technical issue. Speaking of stylistic choices, the whole movie has a bleached out antiseptic look to it. I really dig it, it looks cool, but it does throw off skin tones and gives everything a bit of a surreal look.
The audio is presented in English in Dolby Surround 5.1 with English subtitles. There is no distortion and the dialog is always clearly audible, that’s about all the good that can be said about the audio. The foley is overpowering, it never really blends into the rest of the movie and it’s just bad as well, the guns sound like cap guns or worse. Most of the actual songs used in the movie are pretty cool; there is a Latin, Spanish vibe that works. Most of the score though is schizophrenic, bluesy one minute, and then a bit of orchestral bombast then back to the Spanish thing which kind of actually works. Sometimes, it matches the individual scenes but it doesn’t match the tone of the movie, which is probably one of the big reasons why the movie never seems to make up its mind whether it’s a light caper movie or some kind of heavy suspense something or another.
The Packaging and Bonus Features
Red band trailers; I’ve always wondered why there were never R-rated (trailers for R-rated movies that are cut for restricted audiences have a red rating notice, hence the “red band”, trailers for R-rated movies that can still be shown to general audiences have a green ratings notice) trailers on the DVDs for R-rated movies. I still don’t know why that’s not the case in general but this DVD has several red band trailers on it. Not a reason to buy the DVD but I think it’s kind of interesting. The DVD comes with a cardboard slipcase in an “Eco-Box” that uses less plastic than the standard Amaray case. The artwork is your standard floaty head with guns and serious stares kind of thing. Just looking at the box, especially with the title, I thought this was going to be some kind of political thriller. The extent of the special features is a making of featurette.
Oh what a train wreck, this movie is almost a textbook example of how important tone is. If the filmmakers could have just settled on exactly what kind of movie they were making here, I think this could have been a halfway decent movie instead of the sloppy mess that it is. One note, if you’re a fan of Spokane, it looks beautiful in this movie so that’s at least one reason to pick up this DVD.
Overall (Not an Average) 5/10
The Movie 6/10
The Video 7/10
The Audio 4/10
The Packaging and Bonus Features 4/10
Overall (Not an Average) 5/10