Plot: What’s it about?
Brian (Mark Ruffalo) has been involved in criminal endeavors for as long as he can remember, even as children, he and his best friend Paulie (Ethan Hawke) were on the wrong side of the law. After fifteen years working on the streets for crime boss Pat (Brian Goodman), Brian has moved from picking up payoff packets to brutal enforcement work and beyond. While his work has gotten more violent, he hasn’t been able to escape it in the least. His wife (Amanda Peet) and children depend on the money, so he continues to work for Pat, but he also wants to find income of his own. When he falls into drug and alcohol abuse, then winds up in prison however, Brian starts to rethink his path in life. He wants to be there for his family and provide like he should, but will the lure of quick cash put him back in danger?
What Doesn’t Kill You is based on the real life experiences of Brian Goodman, who serves as the film’s co-writer and director, so of course, this was an intensely personal project. As you listen to Goodman’s audio comments, you can grasp how powerful his story is, but sadly, the film itself fails to bring that power across. The film is capable, but comes off as run of the mill and never ignites the kind of emotion that rests within the material. Goodman’s direction is to blame, as the tone of the film isn’t as oppressive and tense as it should be, which in turn lessens the emotional content. If this were more raw and potent in scope, then What Doesn’t Kill You would work so much better. Instead, we’re left with mostly wasted potential. But while this isn’t as good as it should be, it is worth a rental if the subject matter interests you.
Video: How does it look?
What Doesn’t Kill You is presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. This looks decent enough, but the visual design ensures this never stands out. The image here is washed out, with a soft presence and muted tones, but that is intentional. In other words, this will never be crystal clear and vibrant, that is just not in the cards. But this looks accurate to the intended visual design, which is about all we can ask in a case like this. You won’t be bowled over and the improvement over the DVD is minor at best, but this is still an accurate looking visual presentation.
Audio: How does it sound?
This Dolby TrueHD 5.1 option is fine, but rarely rises above the bare necessities. A couple of scenes do have some promise, but they’re rare and infrequent. Those isolated moments do let us know how much of a difference added presence can make, as those scenes sound great. But most of the movie is rather reserved and has little to no real presence. This is a shame, as even some minor surround use could have added so much. This is still solid however, with clear dialogue and well handled elements, but it could have been so much better. This disc also includes English subtitles.
Supplements: What are the extras?
The audio comments from director Brian Goodman and star Donnie Wahlberg are well worth a listen, as both also served as writers on this very personal project. Goodman’s life is on the screen here, so to hear him detail his trials and tribulations in depth was quite powerful. It is a shame the film failed to capture the raw emotion and depth of Goodman’s story, as it is has so much potential within it. This disc also includes some deleted scenes, as well as a brief promotional featurette.