De Niro is Vincent LaMarca. His father was a kidnapper and accidental murderer. Now hisson, a junkie, has also killed a man. Will LaMarca be able to stop the generational cycle ofviolence? The Long Beach settings are very effective, combining rotting former grandeur withStalinist architecture. So far, so 70s, and the hard-luck characters fit right in. FrancesMcDormand, however, is stuck with a woefully underwritten part as De Niro’s girlfriend. Theplot, as well, is strictly…by-the-numbers — you won’t be surprised by a single twist, right down tothe embarrassing Move-of-the-Week style soliloquy De Niro is forced to mouth at the climax.Enjoyable enough all the same, but not what it could have been.
The sound is pretty much flawless. The music and sound effects have great surroundpresence, and the environment is almost total (especially during scenes that take place inthunderstorms). The dialogue is distortion-free, though sometimes the muttering requires the useof subtitles.
The grimy look of Long Beach is enhanced by the cold, gritty look of the cinematography.The colours, contrasts, flesh tones and blacks are all very strong. There are noticeable halosaround black-clad characters, however. The ratio is a gorgeous 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen.The layer transition is very clumsily timed.
The commentary is the essential extra here. An interesting conversation between writer KenHixon and producer Matthew Baer, it focuses less on the technical aspects of filmmaking, andmore on the actors, the themes, and the ideas. “Six Words About Filmmaking with MichaelCaton-Jones” is a featurette-style interview with the director. Rounding out the features are castand crew filmographies and the trailer. The menu has a scored and animated main page.
You can’t help but think about how this could have been really, really good with a moreoriginal script. That said, this is still an eminently watchable police story.
Special Features List
- Audio Commentary
- Six Words About Filmmaking with Michael Caton-Jones
- Cast and Crew Filmographies