Category: Shattered Reviews | Posted by: stagewomanjen
Article Date: December 16, 2007 | Publication: dvdfile.com | Author: Jim Howard, Jr
Abby and Neil Randal (Maria Bello and Gerard Butler) have it all: perfect marriage, perfect home, perfect child. But when their daughter, Sophie, is kidnapped by ruthless sociopath Tom Ryan (Pierce Brosnan), their existence is turned upside down. Forced to comply with his twisted wishes, the couple is soon faced with the ultimate choice in this unrelenting thriller: kill an innocent person or never see their daughter alive again.
Great actors, strong direction by Mike Barker, a snazzy production design by John Bloomfield, and glossy photography by Ashley Rowe make this is a great looking film thatís easy to watch. When the inevitable crisis turns the story into the thriller it truly is, a mystery unfolds, as well. Why is Tom Ryan terrorizing this couple? In fact you may be asking yourself that right to the very end, since it is never directly answered. However, that is the intent of the film, and it sometimes works and sometimes does not.
When motivations by critical characters are not defined, sometimes it can be difficult to engage with the story. I soon figured out that this film did not fully define Tom Ryanís fury because we, the audience, are supposed to pick up on clues to discover it for ourselves. A clear reason does exist. But I ping-ponged between trying to have fun with the mystery, and also being irritated by it. The script works very hard at closing up loose ends and creating an air-tight and clever plot. But there are a few things that just didnít jell as I slipped from its grip.
Gerard Butler had to have either just completed his role in 300 or was just about to begin it; his muscles are bulging, not to mention that he is just a big, imposing, specimen of a man. Brosman manhandles Butler a few times with his bare hands, but itís just so damned obvious that Butler could snap Brosmanís ordinary physique like a toothpick Ė many times over. And there is a scene at the police station that is just too smooth and conveniently resolved. Then there is an issue with . . . no, that would be a spoiler.
Tom Ryan asks the couple to do some innocuous things at first, simply as a power play; that watered down the threat to some degree. When Ryanís demands get more serious, the film correspondingly becomes more gripping. Regardless of my qualms, the film kept my attention, it does have some great scenes, and I was truly curious about how it would end. The actors turn themselves inside out for their respective roles and itís hard not to be impressed. The most subtle of clues are strewn throughout the film to make the twist ending work, but as I watched this film, I kept thinking that the script probably read better than it played out on screen. Overall, the plot felt admirable but somewhat forced.
The Video: How Does The Disc Look?
The filmís theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1 is presented in anamorphic video. This film has a glossy veneer and perfectly saturated colors. Fleshtones are always spot-on. Daylight scenes fare the best in the city landscape with long shots displaying good shadow detail and small object detail of images appearing clear. The close ups are rather unforgiving to the actors with very good display of finely grained textures of pores and eyelashes that are very clear.
After the one hour mark there are some night scenes where the blacker shadows exhibit some very bad fading with blacks appearing blackish-green. It looks pretty bad. However, during these problematic scenes it is surprising that the grain remains extremely minimal and smooth. This appears to be the result of the source rather than the transfer. Visible edge halos seem to be at a minimum and no compression problems arose. Except for the fading blacks in certain scenes, this is a strong transfer.
The Audio: How Does The Disc Sound?
The disc includes a Dolby Digital 5.1 track. The music by Robert Duncan is pervasive throughout the film with some memorable melodies and keen attention to the action on screen. Duncanís music and the sound effects of city life display a very wide frequency range that is dazzling at first. Part of the strong impression is the dramatic uses of panning between the front left and right speakers with effects and many stylistic, electronic musical cues. While the imaging is rather expansive and impressive, it can be too aggressive and slightly drowns out some of the dialogue, which forced me to reverse scan a few scenes and throw on the subtitles. Low frequencies are nicely incorporated as well as some constantly engaged surrounds exhibiting a vague, hovering ambiance. A few times the surrounds seemed to emit discrete sounds, but it was difficult to tell. This is a fairly solid audio mix, athough I canít remember hearing one with such odd emphases.
Another audio mix in Dolby Surround 2.0 is included. English Closed Captions and subtitles in English and Spanish are also included.
Supplements: What Goodies Are There?
An audio commentary by director Mike Barker and writer and co-producer William Morrissey is included. Both bounce off each other and what is on screen very well. The two note quite a bit of the technical and the surprisingly helpful support of Icon Productions and Infinity Features. The filmmakerís absolute first choice for casting was Maria Bello. They said that they got to make the film they wanted.
Next up is the featurette Breaking Apart the Wheel (17:56). Rife with spoilers, make sure you see this only after you watch the film; the cast and filmmakers discuss the entire story. Many scenes from the film pad this featurette.
Following that is the featurette Hello Villain (4:03). Interviews discuss the Tom Ryan character and how Pierce Brosnan effected this part based on his history of playing James Bond. More fawning and yawning.
Deleted scenes include The Bracelet Scene (0:43) and The Train Station (1:00). Both are a little interesting but really donít move the plot along.
Alternate scenes include Alternate Intro (2:50, with the film's original title, Butterfly on a Wheel), Tomís Son (1:35), and Police Proceedures (0:45) also including a convenient Play All option. The Alternate Intro is innocuous; either intro, though slightly different, probably would not have mattered to an audience. The other two are slightly extended scenes with Tomís Son being notably more interesting than what was left in the film.
Trailers include 3:10 to Yuma, Good Luck Chuck, and Saw IV, Crank, The Cooler, and the cool looking War.
The 95-minute film is organized into nineteen chapters.
Exclusive DVD-ROM Features: What happens when you pop the disc into your PC?
There are no DVD-ROM features on this DVD.
This domestic thriller certainly has its fan base (the reason I asked to review it), a glossy production and strong actors. While I admired the talent, the whole time I thought it just seemed like a story that would work better in print rather than onscreen because of some unbelievable moments. Still, itís fun and has a mystery that admirably attempts to challenge the audience. The transfer is strong but with a flaw, the audio is aggressive, and some decent supplements make this a reasonable deal. Without expectations set too high, this could be recommended as a solid rental.