Son of a Gun (Blu-ray)

April 8, 2015 5 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton and Matt Malouf

Plot: What’s it about?

Son of a Gun begins with Brenton Thwaites on his way to prison. He plays JR and is serving a small term. In prison he meets Brendan Lynch (Ewan McGregor) who ultimately offers him protection in exchange for JR to aide in Brendan’s prison escape as well as a heist. JR offered Brendan tips during a chess game when he was in prison, and this is where he took JR under his wing, so to speak. JR is released from prison after six months and he meets with some of Brendan’s associates who give him the details of the upcoming heist as well as breaking Brendan and his crew out of prison. I won’t get into the relative ease JR has with breaking Brendan and two others out of prison. It’s best sometimes to just go with it and not over-think things. If you do, you will begin to tire of the plot mechanics rather quickly.

What begins as a standard prison film quickly turns into an almost entirely different film not even a third of the way through. Once Brendan escapes from prison the film goes down a different route. There are several other plot elements at play, but the relationship between JR and Brendan is the focal point of the film. Truthfully, had the film been set entirely in the prison I think it would’ve done more for me. Sure, we’ve seen prison movies like it before, but there are always new ways to approach familiar material. As I begin thinking back over the film, part of the problem for me was the cast and their heavy accents. Accents so heavy that subtitles definitely helped. There’s really nothing particularly wrong with the cast, but I think more familiar faces would’ve allowed me to become more invested in the story. McGregor is a fine enough actor, but I do feel a larger screen presence might’ve helped matters here. The plot is also overly convoluted with plot points continuing to roll in even when the film is more than halfway through. The early prison scenes are what stuck with me most. I was never really bored during the film, but something about it left me cold.

Video: How’s it look?

In spite of the film’s darker tone, it offers a surprisingly bright and vivid transfer. The 2.40:1 AVC HD image is alive with tons of intricate detail which makes for a fairly satisfying viewing experience. Colors are bright and bold, lush hues adorn the outdoor scenes and black levels and contrast work well off one another. Shot digitally, this is certainly indicative of a newer film and it shows – in the most literal sense. A really nice effort here.

Audio: How’s it sound?

The real treat and what I wasn’t expecting was the DTS HD Master Audio soundtrack. Vocals are pure and clean, lacking any distortion and though the front channels shoulder the burden of the majority of the soundtrack, there are times when the surround steal the show. There’s a pretty amazing car chase scene (after a robbery) that makes use of every speaker in your setup. It’s a dizzying soundstage that really brings life to the film. Add to that the LFE are heavily involved and it makes for even more of a treat.

Supplements: What are the extras?

  • Audio Commentary – Director Julius Avery talks candidly of his first effort behind the film, what it’s like working with an experienced actor like Ewan McGregor and some of the little hidden things that pop up when shooting a film. It’s a talkative and informative track and well worth a listen.
  • Partners in Crime: The Making of Son of a Gun – Your standard EPK “Making of…” featurette, though the interviews with McGregor and Thwaites are a little above par. I’d watch this after the film itself as a few spoilers lurk.

The Bottom Line

While certainly interesting and entertaining at times, Son of a Gun never really works or comes together in a satisfying way. I think some sharper writing and a better cast would’ve allowed me to be more on board with this. As it stands, I can only offer a modest recommendation, but you could do a lot better.

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