Plot: What’s it about?
I have commented before about Direct to Video titles and how one is never sure of the quality (or lack of) that it may bring. Though this one was released in a few select theaters. That is part of what works is the solid production value. To get it right out, White Elephant surprised me very much. Don’t mistake it for some modern action classic, but it held my interest and passed the time very nicely. As a requirement, it does star none other than Bruce Willis. It may be one of his last roles since his diagnosis, but he seems ok here in a small role.
Michael Rooker plays Gabriel Tancredi, a former marine and a recent widower, he works for mob boss Arnold Solomon (Willis). Tancredi is the typical character we find in this sort of feature. He wants out of the mob life and yearns for his recently deceased wife. He mentors a fellow assassin named Carlos Garcia (Vadhir Derbez) and the two of them seem to work well together. We see bits of them cleaning up a house after a hit and getting rid of the evidence. In short: they’re good at what they do, even if it’s a life of crime. Garcia’s latest job is witnessed by two police officers, and this causes concern for Solomon who then orders a hit on them. The two are played by Olga Kurylenko and Michael Rose. I won’t reveal some of the plot elements as they will cause spoilers, but some may or may not be obvious to certain viewers.
What I think works in this film compared to the countless others in this genre, especially as of late is the seriousness to it. It’s true that some films take themselves TOO seriously, but this one has a sincerity that helps it. It’s a loud and often violent film, but I cared about the characters and the outcome. While the film can be a bit predictable after a while, it puts such an emphasis on its characters that it elevates things. This is especially true of the Michael Rooker character who is given some dramatic heft to his character. I especially liked the scenes between he and his partner that is taken under his wing. Some moments are implausible and the scenes with Bruce Willis can’t help but elicit some eye rolling, but mostly this is an effective little action film that kept me with it. Rent it.
Video: How’s it look?
We get a 2.39:1 ratio and this transfer looks clean. To put simply, things are about as crisp as one could expect from such a recent film. I enjoyed the setting of the film and the interiors as well as exteriors of the homes seen. The details are sharp and colors all natural and realistic looking. Viewers should feel pleased with these results.
Audio: How’s it sound?
The DTS HD track is quite an active one as this is a loud film. The quieter moments are fine, but the action scenes pack a punch. Several times throughout the film, this track makes its presence known. Like the transfer, this track shines.
Supplements: What are the extras?
The Bottom Line
I wasn’t expecting much, but White Elephant was quite impressive. It can be predictable at times, but the establishing of the characters and central premise kept me with it. It’s better than a lot of films of this sort. Check it out.