When first reading the synopsis of Control I thought that it would be something similar to the Michael Keaton-Andy Garcia movie Desperate Measures, and how violent criminals can be reformed somehow. Lee Ray (Ray Liotta, Goodfellas), a convicted criminal sentenced to death, is offered the chance to start life anew with the help of counseling from Dr. Copeland (Willem Dafoe, Spider-Man), along with some behavior suppressing drugs.
And of course, Lee Ray resists at first, but soon g…ows to appreciate what the drugs can do for him. He eventually is released to the outside, where he finds a job and meets a girl he’s crazy about (Michelle Rodriguez, Girlfight). He finds remorse about a man he’d disabled and attempts to make peace with him, but the man’s brother (and other criminal elements), soon come back to haunt him.
The cast that was secured for this film is a pleasant surprise. For a film of modest size, you’ve got Liotta, Dafoe and Rodriguez, along with (in a smaller role) Stephen Rea (The Crying Game), who plays a pharmaceutical rep. The story itself is a little dicey, with Dafoe as the normal one between him and Liotta, and his backstory is not fully explained and his motives are assumed without question (or detail sometimes). Rodriguez is almost wasted in her role in the story, but Liotta’s performance really brings ties them all into one cohesive story, as he plays his normal apparent socipathic tendencies well and shows a great deal of sensitivity. It’s what you’d expect from the character, but Liotta’s strength in laying things on the line emotionally is a brave step. While the third act and ending were a bit cliched, I enjoyed this movie quite a bit for Liotta’s performance in it.
Surprisingly, the film has Dolby Digital 5.1 surround tracks in both English and French, along with a Dolby 2.0 Surround Spanish track. It’s a fairly decent track with some low end fidelity from time to time, but in the few actions scenes where surround would be a nice choice, it’s non-existent. Shows what you get for a limited budget I suppose.
Control is presented in a 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen format that looks crystal clear, more so than I expected. The color palette for the film is pretty subdued, but the black levels look consistently great throughout and the overall image is reproduced very well for such a small film.
You’ve got your choice of seven different trailers (including the one for the film) and a standard making of/EPK promotional piece that is about 15 minutes. It shares the cast thoughts of the film, along with the director and stunt coordinator (?), and the choice to film the movie in Bulgaria which, after watching the film, you can tell very easily.
The story does give the movie some credibility problems, but the acting performances of the two leads in the film, particularly Liotta’s, make this film one to rent to see how Henry Hill spills his guts out for 90 minutes. One to rent (or watch when it comes out on cable).
Special Features List
- Seven Trailers
- Making of/EPKpromotional piece