Plot: What’s it about?
2013 has been a really good year for both Mark Wahlberg and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Yes I realize that he really doesn’t go by “The Rock” anymore, but I think someone with the audacity to refer to themselves as such a thing should never live it down. Hey, I love “The Rock”, he’s probably one of my favorite actors. And as I mentioned, it’s been a really good year for him with starring roles in Snitch, G.I. Joe: Retaliation and Fast and Furious 6 to name just a few. Wahlberg hasn’t been quite as active but with this and the recent 2 Guns and the success of last year’s Ted, he’s not doing that badly himself. But let’s look at the obvious, shall we? Both of these guys are essentially known for one thing – they’re bodies. Both Wahlberg and Johnson have always kept themselves in impeccable shape. Johnson was a former collegiate football star at the University of Miami and I guess Wahlberg had to look his best since he used to be an underwear model for Calvin Klein. So what do you get when you combine these two guys, a lot of testosterone and a director who epitomizes a “guy” movie? Oh my.
Meet Daniel Lugo (Mark Wahlberg), a self-made man if there ever was one, but someone who’s also had his share of misfortunes. Daniel has just convinced the owner of a Miami gym to hire him on under the promise of him tripling the membership in 90 days. He does it. What was once a hangout for the elderly is now a hot spot full of strippers and bodybuilders. Life is good. However one of Daniel’s clients has a big mouth and constantly brags on his own success. When he’s had enough, Daniel decides that he’ll force Victor (Tony Shaloub) to sign over his assets. Daniel, of course, needs help and enlists another client, Adrian (Anthony Mackie) as well as a God-fearing ex-con, Paul (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson). The strange thing is that it works, though there’s one small detail that may or may not play a part in the trio’s success.
I didn’t mention it above, but this is a true story and the film takes place in the mid 90’s. That’s somewhat irrelevant as I think it could have translated fairly well to modern day, but that’s neither here nor there. Both Wahlberg and Johnson are great in their roles and if ever there was a movie that would be perfect for both of these guys, it’s that of two body builders. Let me also say that this movie is dark. I mean some pretty bad things happen and they’re not shy about showing it. Granted, it’s a Michael Bay movie so of course there has to be bikini-clad models in nearly every scene, but that’s not really the issue. If you’re sick of the Transformers movies and want to get back to the kind of movie that Michael Bay was known for (ironically he really rose to fame in the mid 90’s with movies like The Rock and Bad Boys) then this is it.
Video: How’s it look?
This appears to be the exact same transfer as the previous release. That isn’t a problem, however as the transfer was already excellent. After all, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. This is a very visual film and the transfer presents that perfectly with smooth, even colors and fine detail. There’s not a trace of grain to be found or any other print flaws. The sun drenched Miami setting is never short of amazing. The bullets of sweat on Johnson’s head shows up strongly in several scenes as well as individual hairs on many of the actor’s heads. The film lends itself wonderfully to the HD format. The image is AVC encoded with a 2.40:1 ratio.
Audio: How’s it sound?
The Dolby TrueHD track is also solid and to my ears, is the same as before, but that’s not a bad thing. One thing about the film is that it’s never dull. Vocals are always alive and clean and the bass kicks in on a number of occasions. Surrounds remained active throughout the track and certainly added to the track. Bullets fly left and right, jail cell doors open shut in a few flashback sequences and the detail is constant throughout. There’s some 90’s music during the film and that certainly benefits from such a strong track. Michael Bay has never been one for subtlety so that shouldn’t be expected from this track. This delivers on all levels from beginning to end.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This film didn’t exactly light up the box office, but the folks at Paramount have still given us a second release. This was released not even four months after the initial bare-bones release. The million dollar question is: Is this release worth getting if you already own the previous release? I’d have to say no. We get just under an hours worth of material here (57:10 to be exact), but none of it is groundbreaking. There’s also no reason why these features couldn’t have been on the first release. The 8 segments here offer some nice background info, but I still would’ve preferred more on the true story and characters that the film was based on. A commentary track would’ve been much appreciated as well. The disc comes packaged in a slipcover tucked inside a spiffy red case (Yes a RED case) complete with inner cover art and a digital copy code. Worth mentioning is that this release omits the DVD copy that came with the first release. This isn’t a huge loss, but it seems strange to not include that here. If you don’t already own the film then this is the version to get, otherwise I see no reason to upgrade just for an hours worth of footage.
- Still A True Story: Ripped from the Headlines – We hear from the cast and crew and Michael Bay mentions how the film is very much a love-it-hate-it film. We hear about the craziness behind the real story and how it’s darkly comical. There’s also talk about capturing the right tone for the film.
- Back to basics: Michael Bay’s Vision – There’s a lot of talk about the films smaller budget (for a Michael Bay film) and how this was a passion project for Michael Bay for many years. There’s a lot of footage from the set as well.
- American Dreamer: Daniel Lugo – The primary focus here is on Mark Walhlberg and how he bulked up for his role here. We hear a lot of background info on Wahlberg and his work process. This offers a nice look at the inspiration for the character – The real Daniel Lugo.
- Passion Player: Paul Doyle – This is a look at the character than Dwayne Johnson played in the film. He mentions that Paul is the most interesting character to him. Johnson mentions that there’s a good deal of empathy for the character despite the things he does in the film. We hear a lot of what Johnson brought to the role. The writers originally had another character in mind for Johnson, but he insisted on playing Doyle.
- Dirty Work: Adrian Doorbal – This offers a glimpse at the character played by Anthony Mackie.
- Victimless Crime: Victor Kershaw – This takes a look at the character played by Tony Shalhoub. We hear a bit about the character that inspired this role as well. I still would’ve liked more background on the real life character, but this is still worth a look.
- Diamonds in the Rough: Locations – We hear about shooting in Miami and the culture among other things. We get a look at the location used for the Sun Gym in the movie too. We get a bit of background on some of the other buildings used throughout shooting too. What’s interesting is that Michael Bay’s house was used for some of the film.
- The Real Deal: Law enforcement – This gives us a look at the police department used in the film and how Bay likes for things to be authentic. He insisted on using actual police officers and real weapons. This also gives a glimpse at on the action scenes late in the film involving the Dwayne Johnson character. There’s also a moment when an actual officer tells us that some of the things seen in the film wouldn’t actually be done by real officers. Imagine that.