Plot: What’s it about?
Ah, the heist movie. If done correctly, these can be some of the most entertaining films out there. And if not, well…you’ve got American Heist. This won’t be a review of me knocking the movie as it wasn’t that bad, just utterly predictable and to me that can sometimes be worse. Instead I’ll focus on the cast because at various times in the lead actors’ careers, they’ve had some moments. First up we’ve got Academy Award Winner Adrien Brody who has proven, on countless occasions, he’s an elite actor. Next up is Hayden Christensen who has been out of pocket for the past few years. Let’s not forget the guy played Luke Skywalker – one of the most iconic roles in the history of cinema. And lastly Jordana Brewster who must be on loan from the Fast and the Furious franchise. She plays the role of the girlfriend – very challenging. Still, get your cliches ready and gear up for a good old-fashioned bank robbery. Are ya ready?
James (Hayden Christensen) and Frankie (Adrien Brody) are brothers. About a decade ago they committed a crime that sent James to prison for 18 months and Frankie for ten years. Frankie is now out and seeks to make amends with his younger sibling. James is an auto mechanic and is trying to procure the funds to start his own auto shop, but sees the doors slammed in his face at every turn. Frankie, along with two less than desirable “friends” he met in prison, Sugar (Akon) and Ray (Tory Kittles) have a plan – rob a bank. They plan to use James as the getaway driver as well as his auto skills to create diversions around New Orleans while they load up on cash and get away scot free. This doesn’t sit too well with James, who is also trying to rebuild ties with his former girlfriend (Jordana Brewster) who just happens to be a dispatcher for the NOPD. However, if things do go according to plan it’ll pave the way for James’ garage. And things always go according to plan, right?
As I mentioned above, American Heist isn’t a bad movie per se, it’s just predictable. Adrien Brody’s character seems to epitomize everything we’d expect from someone who’s been in prison for a decade. He breaks down, tells what was done to him physically, chain smokes, drinks, does drugs and seems to have a “Ratso Rizzo’ish” facial tick (because, you know, he’s been inside)! I’ve not spent too much time in New Orleans, but both Frankie and James seem to have more of a Northeastern accent as opposed to the traditional Cajun associated with that area of the country. Nevertheless…There are some moments of glory in the film, but they’re pretty few and far between and it leads to a rather predictable yawn-fest by the time the ending credits roll.
Video: How’s it look?
Presented in a 2.40:1 AVC HD transfer, American Heist does indeed look the part. I found really nothing to complain about visually-speaking. The entire film seems to have a slight vignetting effect (darker edges around the sides and corners) though it might just be a few scenes that stood out. Flesh tones are a bit on the muted side, though detail is incredible – you can make out Frank Sinatra’s tattoo with relative ease on Frankie’s arm. Contrast is strong and black levels are solid as a rock. It’s a top notch image that will surely please viewers.
Audio: How’s it sound?
The included DTS HD Master Audio soundtrack certainly has some moments, though most occur in the third act (the bank robbery). Vocals are pure and crisp and Adrien Brody’s “skitterish” voice seems to resonate. Surrounds take command during a few car chase scenes, though the front stage does most of the hard work. The LFE even get involved a few times as well. On a technical level, it gets the job done and I’ve no complaints.
Supplements: What are the extras?
- Creating a Complex Caper: Pulling off American Heist – This 25 minute segment contains the nuts and bolts of everything we’ve come to expect from a supplement like this. We get some praise for Director Sarik Andreasyan from the cast and crew as well as some interviews with the major stars of the film who jumped at the chance to be a part of this film.
The Bottom Line
If you’re looking for a light-hearted heist movie, check out any one of the Ocean’s Eleven (Twelve or Thirteen) films. If you’er looking for something with an edge, check out Michael Mann’s Heat. Certainly the filmmakers were paying homage to a few of these movies, but it just didn’t add up here. The Blu-ray offers up superb technical merits, but I’m hard-pressed to recommend a purchase.