Plot: What’s it about?
Jason Statham plays Phil Broker, a former DEA agent who moves to a small town after an undercover operation goes wrong. Broker is a single parent raising his young daughter Maddy (Izabela Vidovic). After she’s bullied on the school playground, Maddy seriously hurts the bully and the boy’s mother Cassie (Kate Bosworth) is more than furious with what happened. Despite it being self-defense, she feels more actions should be taken against Maddy and her father. The school has had problems with this family before, hence the presence of the local sheriff on the school premise after the incident. James Franco plays Morgan “Gator” Bodine. He is the town’s local meth drug-lord and also the brother to Cassie. After the school incident, Cassie insists that Gator take care of Broker and teach him a lesson, “scare him” she suggests. Gator does some surveillance and even steals Maddy’s cat. The script was written by Sylvester Stallone many years ago and it was abandoned. It wasn’t until Jason Statham showed interest that it came to fruition. Maybe it was fate that intervened as this is clearly Statham’s comfort zone. Outside of the recent resurgence of former action stars via The Expendables movies among others, Statham is truly one of the few action stars today in his prime. I am more than grateful to see plenty of action movies as of late, but it’s nice seeing an actor like Statham in his glory days. Let’s face it; Stallone and the gang aren’t getting any younger. They’re in better shape than a lot men their age, but Statham is more convincing at this point in his career. There are a few witty one-liners, but things never veer into camp territory. Bruce Willis comes to mind with some of the Die Hard films, but Statham is much more stern than Willis and that’s OK. It works for him.
There are plenty of elements here that are reminiscent of the kind of 90’s action flicks we don’t see too much of these days. The story here is simple, the action hard-hitting and R rated and thankfully, the film doesn’t overstay its welcome. The cast also does a fine job. Winona Rider even shows up as an old acquaintance of Gator’s. After Gator discovers details about Broker’s past life, he asks Sheryl (Rider) to sell Broker out to some insiders in exchange for statewide distribution. Is the plot absurd? Yes. Is it a bit too predictable? Absolutely, but it’s also a lot of fun. It moves at a nice, steady pace and has more than enough action to please fans of the genre. I do wish Statham had a better adversary. Franco is certainly a fine actor, but I think a more physically imposing actor would’ve worked better here. Still, that’s a minor flaw and Franco gives a solid performance here. It certainly isn’t as interesting as his performance in Spring Breakers,but we’re comparing apples and oranges so that’s to be expected. Statham did a good job in last year’s Parker and this film is about on the same level. Broker is constantly harassed by the local townsfolk and the film makes good use of its backwater location. I’d say if you’re a fan of action films and Jason Statham then you will probably enjoy it. I did. There are better action films out there, but there are also far worse and that counts for something.
Video: How’s it look?
I often compliment Universal on their strong transfers and this is no exception. For such a recent film I wouldn’t expect any less. We get a 2.40:1 AVC encoded transfer here. The print is pristine and free distortions such as grain or other issues. There are a few wide shots that offer some nice background details that stand out strong and clear. Statham’s ever-present stubble comes through in strong force here with individual hairs showing strong definition. There are some close up shots of several of the actor’s faces that display nice even flesh tones. I have no complaints here.
Audio: How’s it sound?
The 5.1 DTS HD track is also worthy of much praise. All the channels get plenty of usage. Things are balanced and smooth throughout. The film begins with an undercover operation and right away the track engages us and shows strong force. Bullets fly left and right and add a nice kick to many of the action scenes. The quieter moments work well also with plenty of clean sounding vocals. The rear channels also lend themselves nicely to the film’s woodsy atmosphere with insects buzzing in the background and a few scenes with horses grunting. This is a solid track.
Supplements: What are the extras?
Universal is often hit-or-miss with a lot of their titles and sadly, this disc falls into the latter category. Outside of a DVD copy and Digital copy code, we only get a few deleted scenes and one brief featurette.
- Deleted Scenes (8:38) – Nothing major here, just extended bits mostly. There’s an extended ending here that is nice to see though.
- Standoff (2:41) – This is definitely too brief to offer much of anything. We do hear from the cast and director though and Sylvester Stallone offers a few bits. They mention the story’s western elements and how the story has heart. Again, it’s too brief to be anything beyond an extended trailer.
- DVD Copy/UltraViolet Copy