Plot: What’s it about?
After he tires of his stressful profession and decides to lead a simpler life, Boomer (Scott Wiper) quits the police force and heads toward greener pastures. So he treks to a small town and tries to settle down, far from the screaming sirens, gunfights, and criminal element he left behind. But his new life will not remain calm for long, as Boomer soon finds himself locked in a manhunt from both sides of the law. A string of coincidences paints him to be someone he isn’t, in the form of a missing agent who holds vital information about Chicago’s ruthless mafia. So as he tries to put together the pieces, Boomer is hunted by the mafia, who want to knock him off, all while the police run their own operation around the situation. Can Boomer fit it all together and locate the information needed to shut down the crime syndicate, or will he finally be taken down, now that he has found a true home?
I never miss a Natasha Henstridge flick and as such, I knew I’d have to give this disc a spin. I had seen some promotional pieces for this film on Showtime, but I am not sure if this was a made for cable effort or not. In any case, this one seemed to zoom under the radar for the most part, but with a nice cast and a promise of hard hitting violence, sooner or later it was bound to be discovered. As I mentioned above, I took interested due to Henstridge, but with Lou Diamond Phillips, Andre Braugher, and Joe Pantoliano on deck, the cast is pretty well stacked. I wouldn’t say all the acting here is that impressive, but the leads seem on track and as usual, Braugher nails his role from the start. This is an action driven piece to be sure, so make sure you like gunshots, chases, and a lot of blood, as this movie supplies those elements and then some. Of course, the stunts and action don’t have the scope of bigger budget movies, but I think given the natural of this effort, action fans will be pleased. If you’re looking for an action flick to rent, then I recommend A Better Way To Die, as it has the goods and knows how to use them.
I do love the work of Natasha Henstridge, who seems to be stuck on midlevel star status, although she deserves much better. Her classical acting skills might be a shade under ideal, but she shines on screen and seems to have very good charisma, which counts for a lot in cinema. I think she is a gifted performer, but some criticize her work and call her simple eye candy, which I think is a serious oversight. I mean, yeah she is very attractive, but she can also perform well and she takes on some interesting roles, which is always good. I like her a lot and if you want to see more of her, then check out Maximum Risk, Species, Adrenalin, The Whole Nine Yards, It Had To Be You, and of course, Species II. The cast here also includes Andre Braugher (It’s The Rage, Frequency), Joe Pantoliano (The Matrix, U.S. Marshals), Lou Diamond Phillips (Courage Under Fire, Supernova), and Scott Wiper, who also directed this picture.
Video: How does it look?
A Better Way To Die is presented in a 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. This is a razor sharp visual presentation, with a pristine source print and no real problems to report. The colors look superb here, very rich and flesh tones look natural, while no bleeds or other flaws present. I also saw no errors with the contrast, which provides well balanced black levels and a good amount of detail. I did see a couple of instances of edge enhancement, but aside from that, this is a terrific transfer and no one should be let down here.
Audio: How does it sound?
This one packs a lot of gunplay, so you know the included Dolby Digital 5.1 has potential. The action sequences sound excellent here and really use the surrounds well, from gunshots to racing engines, it all sounds good here. I suppose a couple spots weren’t as powerful as they could be, but in the end, I am pleased with this mix. I also like the music here, which is well presented and packs a nice punch as well. No problems with vocals either, as dialogue is crisp and smooth here, very impressive indeed. This disc also contains a 5.1 track in French, as well as 2.0 surround options in Spanish and Portuguese. If you need subtitles, this disc has them in English, Spanish, Portuguese, French, Thai, Chinese, and Korean.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This disc includes some talent files, the film’s trailer, and an informative audio commentary track with director/writer/actor Scott Wiper.