Written by Dan Bradley
The right to bear arms has been a heated debated for many years now. Entertainment industries, Hollywood included, have often been singled out as culprits for violence at the hands of these legally-owned weapons. Liberty Stands Still serves as a direct commentary from Hollywood towards the effects of this law, and the influence gun manufacturers and politicians have on the distribution of firearms. Although not released theatrically in the United States, Liberty Stands Still comes home to DVD in a confusing but intri…uing political thriller.
The death of a child can break a parent’s mental balance, especially when the death is at the hand of another child with a gun. For ex-CIA operative Alex (Wesley Snipes, using the alias Joe), the death of his daughter has led him to track down the individuals responsible for the guns that killed her and expose them for what they are. Using his operative skills he traps Liberty (Linda Fiorentino), who owns a gun manufacturing company with her husband (Oliver Platt), in a park through the scope of a rifle. She only has until her cell phone battery dies until a bomb detonates, destroying not only her but innocent people exiting a neighboring theater. Hanging up will also result in detonation, so she is forced to carry a dialogue with Alex as his rifle is aimed at her chest. This cat and mouse game forms the majority of the story and leads to a revelation of secrets, plus vindication when none seems possible.
I found Liberty Stands Still to be a hit and miss, though mostly hit. The pacing of the film is slow and methodical, much like the plan of Snipes’ character. This is a nice departure from standard political thrillers where unnecessary action sequences are thrown in to simply speed the film up. Unfortunately, some of the sub-plots around the hot-dog cart were not fully written and could have been thrown out all together. In particular, the bomb in the theater never really fit into the main plot going on outside. In the end I was satisfied but felt with some fine-tuning by a more experienced director/writer, it could have been better.
Presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 surround, the dialogue and effects are easily audible in most instances. Unfortunately, it was decided this film needed a techno Matrix-style score which not only affects some of the other sounds but removes tension from some of the scenes. I would have preferred a more classical score, perhaps similar to the score in Luc Besson’s Leon: The Professional.
The 1.78:1 anamorphic transfer appears to come from a somewhat worn print as specks were often noticeable, especially in darker scenes. Otherwise the transfer is generally enjoyable.
Only the main menu is animated, which in itself can be somewhat frustrating to choose a destination. Under the audio options is a full-length commentary track with director/writer Kari Skogland. Next up is an interesting split-screen feature which allows four scenes to be viewed from multiple angles at the same time. Due to the different environments interacting with each other in real-time, this is a useful feature to watch the main characters interact with each other. Ever wonder what the Angle button does on your DVD remote? With Liberty Stands Still, you can finally put that neglected button to use. The next feature is the entire film, available through alternate angles. At any point, the angle button can be pressed to switch between the original version and the alternate angle. This is an under-utilized feature in DVDs, especially feature length films, which director wannabe’s can learn a lot from. Rounding out the supplemental material is a trailer.
Fans of Wesley Snipes will no doubt want to snatch this disc up immediately to enjoy his stone-cold depiction of a vengeful killer. Fans of Linda Fiorentino should purchase this as well to see her acting go from bitch to playful to sympathetic and back again. For the rest of us, Liberty Stands Still makes a decent rental, especially compared to typical political thrillers of recent times.
Special Features List
- Director’s Commentary
- Multiple angles
- Split screen comparisions
- Theatrical Trailer