Blu Tuesday: Trance, Welcome to the Punch and More

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.

“Trance”

WHAT: With his gambling debt piling up, art auctioneer Simon (James McAvoy) teams up with a group of thieves to steal a Francisco Goya masterpiece. But during the robbery, Simon suffers a blow to his head, and in order to figure out where he stashed the painting, the gang’s leader (Vincent Cassel) hires a hypnotherapist (Rosario Dawson) to dig deep into Simon’s psyche and help jog his memory.

WHY: Adapted from the 2001 TV movie of the same name, “Trance” is so thinly plotted and riddled with gaps in logic that it’s to the credit of director Danny Boyle and his cast (including a surprisingly good Rosario Dawson) that they’re able to keep things interesting. Though Boyle masks a lot of the script’s problems with some nifty visuals and the same kinetic energy prevalent in his other films, the frantic pace only lasts so long before the story grinds to a halt, suffocated by a never-ending series of twists and red herrings that makes it almost impossible to discern what’s real. That’s obviously the point, but by the time the movie arrives at its climactic ending, it becomes one twist too many, and instead of a brilliant mind-bender, it feels like a cheap trick written by someone trying to outdo “Inception.” The movie is ultimately saved by Boyle’s ingenuity and some strong performances, but for a film with such a unique premise, “Trance” should have left a more lasting impression.

EXTRAS: There are six production featurettes (including one on the making of the film), deleted scenes, a retrospective on director Danny Boyle and the short film “Eugene.”

FINAL VERDICT: RENT

“Welcome to the Punch”

WHAT: After failing to capture master thief Jacob Sternwood (Mark Strong) several years earlier, detective Max Lewinsky (James McAvoy) is given a second chance to bring down the elusive criminal when Sternwood returns to London following his son’s death, only to uncover a much deeper conspiracy within his own police department.

WHY:Welcome to the Punch” has garnered a few comparisons to Michael Mann’s cat-and-mouse thriller “Heat,” but the movie pales in comparison. Though it boasts a similar visual style to a lot of Mann’s films, the tension is almost non-existent, and despite an interesting dynamic between McAvoy’s cop and Strong’s robber, it’s never fully explored, nor does it have the same allure of seeing Hollywood heavyweights like Robert De Niro and Al Pacino face off. This is a movie in dire need of a better script, because not only does it lack personality, but it’s too complicated for its own ogod – a tangled mess of half-baked ideas and telegraphed plot twists that never properly explains anything. It’s a generic crime thriller in just about every way, and although it looks great and features a couple of nifty gunfights, the film is ultimately a case of style over substance, and one that its top-notch British ensemble is unable to rescue.

EXTRAS: The single-disc release is a little light on bonus material, but it does include a making-of featurette and interviews with the cast and crew.

FINAL VERDICT: SKIP

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