Slow Burn delivers exactly what the title suggests. A whole lotta slow and a little burn. District Attorney Ford Cole (Liotta) is running for Mayor. He’s got a no nonsense reputation for fighting crime. He’s been locked in a near mortal struggle with crime lord Danny Luden, an elusive criminal who has more than once humiliated Cole in the past. His ace assistant, Nora Timmer (Blalock) has just shot a man she claims attempted to rape her. The story begins to unravel when Luther Pinks (LL Cool J) arrives with an alternate story that paints Timmer in a very bad light. The two tales are told through flashbacks and narrative, and it’s left to the audience to come up with the truth. The only problem is the pacing is erratic and often confusing. After an hour and a half of clichés and snail’s pace plot movement, you find yourself too fatigued to give a crap who is playing who anymore.
There was a ton of potential here. The artistic Noir style of the direction gives you the impression that you’ve entered a uniquely styled world akin to Sam Spade and his universe. Certainly the atmosphere is thick and done extremely well. But in the end, that’s really all there is. Ray Liotta is not near his best, and those close-ups are brutal. Ray hasn’t been taking very good care of himself, I suspect. Jolene Blalock gives an intriguing performance that too often is overplayed by the going-nowhere script, and she quickly dissolves into nothing more than a prop. The who’s who game was old almost from the moment it began, and (I have a witness) I figured it out in the first ten minutes. Wayne Beach shows a wonderful eye for style but an abhorrent recognition of solid storytelling. The film unravels far sooner than its predictable twists.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 track is another waste of a surround mix. Just about everything happens in front of you. Dialog is usually clear, but there are some moments when particularly Blalock is so soft spoken you might have to strain to hear. The music reproduction is solid with some nice sub moments. Again the sound is perfectly reproduced to create the world Beach was looking for.
Wayne Beach provides a commentary track that seems to go from making apologies for aspects of the final product to admiring what was done. I get the impression much of the film did not come out quite what he saw in the script.
Fire In The Streets: This feature is nothing more than a 7 minute promo fluff piece. Everyone says how amazing everything was, so there wasn’t a care in the world. Now that’s acting.
Trivia Track: This option, when enabled, allows you to view the film with subtitles that offer small insights into the film. Complete waste of time.