Every Tuesday, I review the newest Blu-ray releases and let you know whether they’re worth buying, renting or skipping, along with a breakdown of the included extras. If you see something you like, click on the cover art to purchase the Blu-ray from Amazon, and be sure to share each week’s column on Facebook and Twitter with your friends.
WHAT: After she’s horribly injured in a drunk driving accident, French immigrant Beatrice (Noomi Rapace) seduces and then blackmails a professional killer named Victor (Colin Farrell) into exacting revenge in her name. What she doesn’t realize, however, is that Victor is also the victim of an unforgivable crime who’s spent the past two years plotting his own vengeance.
WHY: After making a name for himself with the Swedish-language adaptation of “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” it was only a matter of time before Hollywood came calling for director Niels Arden Opev. But despite a solid cast and a bigger budget, “Dead Man Down” falls disappointingly short of its potential. There’s nothing about this crime thriller that’s even remotely suspenseful, and that’s due in part to some pretty dull characters and a general lack of focus. The subplot revolving around Rapace’s disfigured woman doesn’t add much to the main story, and although it’s nice to see the actress reuniting with her “Dragon Tattoo” director, Rapace’s performance pales in comparison to her award-winning turn as Lisbeth Salander. Terrence Howard and Dominic Cooper fare a little better in supporting roles, but it’s not quite enough to save the movie from mediocrity. Then again, considering “Dead Man Down” was produced by WWE Studios (who have yet to make one good film), that’s not too surprising.
EXTRAS: The Blu-ray release boasts a trio of behind-the-scenes featurettes on the film’s production, cinematography and stunts. It’s not much, but it’s better than nothing.
FINAL VERDICT: SKIP
WHAT: After four college girls rob a restaurant in order to fund their spring break vacation, the quartet’s hard-partying ways land them in prison. But when they’re bailed out by a charismatic drug and arms dealer named Alien (James Franco), the girls are introduced to a criminal lifestyle that’s far more dangerous than they could ever imagine.
WHY: Harmony Korine’s neon-tinged commentary on American youth culture has its fair share of admirers, but I’m definitely not one of them. Though I understand what the director was trying to accomplish with his satirical deconstruction of the typical spring break mindset (a heightened reality where there are no consequences for your actions), it doesn’t change the fact that it’s essentially a badly executed experimental film disguised as a mainstream crime drama. The female characters are excruciatingly one-dimensional (and whether or not that’s the point doesn’t make them any more engaging), and the constant repetition of certain scenes and lines of dialogue is incredibly grating. Sure, the movie looks great, but it’s also really boring – that is, until Franco shows up midway through and completely steals the show with one of the best performances of his career. His rapper-cum-gangster is immensely entertaining, almost hypnotically so, and it’s the only reason why anyone should consider seeking this movie out.
EXTRAS: In addition to a three-part making-of documentary, there’s a commentary with writer/director Harmony Korine, a music featurette, deleted and extended scenes, and a pair of VICE featurettes on the ATL Twins and party culture in Panama City Beach.
FINAL VERDICT: RENT