John Bonito has had very little experience in filmmaking. He’s done a few wrestling tidbits and one earlier film called The Marine, and that was nearly six years ago. Chances are you haven’t heard of either. If Carjack is any indication of his limited ability, the new film out on Blu-ray isn’t going to help with that name recognition. So, with a no-name director and a direct-to-video release, the film really left small expectations. We might go into a film like this expecting a rather dull, “been there, done that” feel to it. In that sense Bonito doesn’t disappoint at all. But take a closer look at the cast and hope emerges for something perhaps a little better than that. The only response I can offer for that is that a car wasn’t the only thing jacked here. Someone made off with nearly a couple hours of my life. In that Bonito is guilty of grand theft, while some of you might plead it down to petty larceny.
Lorraine (Bello) is trying to put together the pieces of a broken life. Her husband has left her and is threatening to take her son away. She was once negligent and he wondered off into the night alone. She’s in group therapy trying to work out those kinks in her life. Her therapist tells her she needs to take control more, and that aspect of her development is about to be tested.
While stopped at a gas station Roy (Dorff) sneaks into their car and holds a gun on her. He demands she drive him 300 miles to a rendezvous with his fellow criminals. There are roadblocks, and he needs her and her son to get through them. They get out of town safely and Roy holds them hostage, promising to release them when he gets to where he needs to be.
The first trouble I run into is that Lorraine just isn’t a very sympathetic victim. After being accused of neglecting her son, she leaves him in the car while shopping because he wants to finish a level on his portable video game. We’re supposed to hate her ex who wants to take the kid, but he’s probably right. Once kidnapped, Maria Bello puts on a very uncharacteristically weak performance. Part of the problem is a script that has her actually get a chance to use her cell phone but calls 411 information instead of 911. It’s like something out of an old Friends episode. She does kind of redeem herself at one point, but the writers decided to tack on an ending here that really takes away any sympathy or credit the character might have edged by with. Stephen Dorff is another actor who usually delivers much better than this. Together they are a train wreck. Somehow Bonito manages to squander a solid cast in what could have at least been a solid character study. No such luck.
My advice is that you stay away from dark gas stations, never leave your young son in the car alone, and never, absolutely NEVER even think of putting this one in your Blu-ray player.
Carjacked is presented in its original aspect ratio of 2.35:1. The 1080p image is arrived at with an AVC MPEG-4 codec at an average 25 mbps. Most of the film is in the dark. Black levels are strong, so you do tend to get some nice intimate detail in the shots. The film tends to claustrophobic and falls ever so short of providing some nice atmosphere.
The Dolby TrueHD 5.1 is pretty much all up-front. There are a few action scenes that spread the surround somewhat, but don’t expect a very aggressive or expansive audio presentation.
Behind The Scenes: (3:16) This is basically a musical montage of behind the scenes shots.
The film is not even about a carjacking. It’s a kidnap film that takes us on a rather dull journey down a road we’ve already been before, but with a nicer ride. There’s also some bait and switch going on. Both Catherine Dent and Joanna Cassidy have prominent billing but appear in very short cameos at the film’s intro. It’s a simple case of getting names to sell the film. For the actors, we’re talking an easy paycheck. From the moment you put Carjacked on your player you’ll be satisfied by only one thing, that “this will all be over very soon.”