Plot: What’s it about?
Bucum (Ice Cube) is a skip tracer, which involves tracking down people who skip out on bail and turning them over to the authorities. This kind of work lands him a nice fee and in the field of bounty hunting, few have a better track record than Bucum. His latest target is a smalltime conman named Reggie (Mike Epps), whom Bucum has had to round up a couple times before. But this time proves to be much different, as the chase leads them out to a warehouse and inside this place, a large scale criminal deal is in progress. A diamond scam is unfolding right in front of them, which of course, catches the attention of both men. But Reggie is having some troubles of his own, as his girlfriend Gina (Eva Mendes) purchased the winning ticket in the lottery, but in the chase, he lost it and has to keep his eyes peeled. Bucum has plans to end the scam himself, instead of waiting for the police to do so, but if he wants to handle the situation, he’ll need Reggie’s assistance. But can these two find a way to even tolerate each other, let alone work together well enough to pull off a complex operation like this one?
As with most films from rap superstars, All About the Benjamins looked pretty dismal from the previews, but I took a chance on it. The reason I went to the theater on this was Mike Epps, who has several performances I’ve enjoyed, although perhaps not in good movies. So I had little expectations, I just wanted to see Epps in his usual form and see some decent stuff, a blend of action and humor, as per the trailers. While Epps and Ice Cube have some solid presence together, All About the Benjamins turns out to be another flat movie, one that isn’t all that bad, but never flashes much on the good side, either. The banter between the two leads is fun at times, as Epps plays off Ice Cube well, but the rest of the performances fall short. As we should know, the plot is predictable and doesn’t veer much from the caper movie norms, but it never seems too tired either, thanks to the back and forth of Epps and Ice Cube. I’d recommend this movie to fans of the two actors, but outside of that demographic, I doubt All About the Benjamins will find much of an audience. If you’re a fan however, New Line’s superb Platinum Series disc is more than worth the cash.
As I said above, the sole reason I went to the theater for this film was the presence of Mike Epps. I know Epps is by no means even a well known performer, let alone a box office draw, but his previous efforts had entertained. As such, I went out to see if All About the Benjamins would continue that trend and to extent, Epps is able to salvage a solid effort. The material here is not that good to begin with, so Epps is held back from the start and when first time director Kevin Bray mishandles his tasks, it makes it even harder for Epps to entertain. But Epps does well enough in most scenes, though some instances simply fall flat, but these are due to the limits of the material & direction, not Epps’ skills. Other films with Epps include Next Friday, How High, 3 Strikes, Bait, and Dr. Dolittle 2. The cast also includes Ice Cube (Anaconda, Ghosts of Mars), Tommy Flanagan (Gladiator, The Saint), Anthony Michael Hall (The Breakfast Club, Weird Science), and Eva Mendes (Urban Legends: Final Cut, Exit Wounds).
Video: How does it look?
All About the Benjamins is presented in a 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. New Line is well known for their blockbuster visual presentations and as such, it is no surprise that this one looks awesome. The print is in excellent condition, as a newer release should be and in truth, I could find little to complain about here. The colors leap off the screen at times, but never seem too rich, while flesh tones remain natural and consistent. No issues with contrast either, as the black levels look top notch and no visible detail loss is evident. In other words, chalk up yet another superb effort from New Line with this release.
Audio: How does it sound?
I wasn’t expecting much from the audio on this disc, but the included Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1 soundtracks offered a terrific experience. Its nice to see a DTS track from New Line and this one is a very good one, although it draws just about even with the Dolby Digital counterpart here, save for a few instances. The more action driven scenes showcase the sound system very well, with ample use of all the speakers, in creative & effective fashion. Not a knockout mix per se, but one that makes great use of the channels and provides an active, immersive experience. The dialogue is a shade low in a couple scenes, but usually sounds clean and easy to understand. This disc also includes a 2.0 surround option, as well as English subtitles.
Supplements: What are the extras?
As with most Platinum Series releases, this one houses a number of extras, including an audio commentary track with director Kevin Bray and producer Matt Alvarez. The two offer a less than interesting session however, as a lot of silence can be heard and when comments are given, they’re not often too worthwhile. A few nice stories come up, but on the whole, this track proves to be a let down. A selection of four brief featurettes focus on music video directors who move to the big screen, the film’s production design, the stunts seen in the picture, and a more general look behind the scenes. These are worth a look, but with a total running time of under forty-five minutes, don’t expect much depth in these featurettes. This disc also includes some production notes, talent files, Trina music video, a deleted scene, a short, but not too humorous gag reel, and the film’s theatrical and teaser trailers.