Mystic River (Blu-ray)

January 28, 2012 7 Min Read

Review by: Christopher Bligh and Matt Brighton

Plot: What’s it about?

The year of 2003 was a big movie year. There were two film trilogies coming to an end and one movie from both the Cannes Film Festival and the NY Film Festival had garnered a lot of attention and praise. What made it interesting is it’s big ensemble cast. What made it more interesting is it’s director, Clint Eastwood, stayed behind the camera instead of getting in front of it. What made it award worthy was a story of friendship, betrayal, revenge, and tragedy. The setting is Boston, past and present and what lies up on land can be seen as clear as the Mystic River.

Many years ago, Jimmy, Sean and Dave were three kids playing on the street and living out their childhood in Boston. All of that changed when two “cops” took one of them away in a car. Forwarding to present day, Jimmy (Sean Penn) has gone on to have a shady past and a business to run and Dave (Tim Robbins) is raising his family the best he can and comes home one night with blood on his body. It seems that Jimmy’s daughter had been the victim of a gunshot wound that left her dead. The police are investigating on this case, headed by his friend Sean (Kevin Bacon) who has gone on to become a cop but starts to realize how far Jimmy will go and how involved Dave is in the matter that would track back to the past.

If this film were put at the same time it was released in a different year, here is one film that would’ve made a killing. Also, Clint Eastwood would had another golden boy to add to the two he already has as this film is superior to his western Unforgiven both in structure, in acting and in writing. The way some of the story crosscuts to similar situations along with the info being vague until the very end where everything is as clear as day is a great buildup.

The acting by all is outstanding. As Jimmy, Sean Penn shows a grief stricken and determined father as cursed as his friend is in terms of the past and the present. As Dave, Tim Robbins gives a man doing the best he can haunted by the demons of the past and delving deeper into truth that leaves him a scarred man trying his damndest to live his life. As Sean, Kevin Bacon is solid as a cop who doesn’t know what to believe even in the midst of a seperation and has to make a choice that can break him apart at the same time.

The rest of the cast gives solid support and the screenplay by Brian Helgeland shows how good a writer he can be at adapting a solid novel into a great cinematic piece. It is a tragedy in every sense but one that is constantly entertaining from the first moment to the last frame. Mystic River flows finely down the line and reaches its pinnacle as one of the finest efforts in Clint Eastwood’s directorial career.

Video: How does it look?

“Mystic River” is a relatively new movie and as such, looks pretty darn impressive on Blu-ray. The 2.40:1 VC-1 HD transfer is visually appealing to the eyes, even taking into consideration the dark and subdued tones of the film. I will say, however, that although the film is dark, it’s not so dark that anything is sacrificed quality-wise. Detail is improved over the previous standard DVD as we might expect with a high definition release.

Audio: How does it sound?

The previous Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack has been replaced with a DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack that’s nothing short of spectacular. This isn’t the type of movie that will wow you with “booms” and “thuds” but rather the polar opposite. The discrete surround effects really make some of the scenes come alive. Dialogue is the main draw here and it sounds very rich, warm and natural coming through the center channel. There are some other effects like car chases, yelling and even a helicopter that do make the soundtrack a nice, overall effort.

Supplements: What are the extras?

For those that don’t remember, “Mystic River” came out in a two and three disc set with the lion’s share of the supplements making the cut for this Blu-ray release. The same commentary track from the three disc set is included with Tim Robbins and Kevin Bacon. Although it would’ve been nice to have included Clint amongst the bunch, they give some humorous and interesting comments along with some interesting tidbits as well as appreciating most of the people involved with the film. There are comfortable gaps and some spoilers, but overall it is a good entertaining track by both. The two documentaries. “Beneath The Surface” and “From Page To Screen” also made the cut to this edition as well. At first I thought that the latter would be an episode from the great Bravo show of the same name. Instead, it’s a shorter version of the first piece giving most of the same info as well as little additions that are interesting but not as fulfilling as other featurettes have getting comments via interviews by the director and the cast. I wish there was like a video diary documenting the days in Boston, but viewers can’t get everything they wish for.

Also being a refreshing sight on this disc are three interviews from one of my favorite shows, Charlie Rose. The episodes cover ground with Clint Eastwood, Kevin Bacon and Tim Robbins and even though some comments get repeated, they’re never dull when they’re part of the interview with Charlie as he asks very insightful questions and get some interesting answers out of the stars and it’s director.

Disc Scores