Antwone Fisher

January 28, 2012 8 Min Read

Review by: Fusion3600

Plot: What’s it about?

Antwone Fisher (Derek Luke) is a young sailor with solid potential, but he has a temper than often lands him in trouble. He has a quick trigger and whenever he flies off the handle, he resorts to physical violence. After repeated instances of this pattern, Fisher is sent to the base psychiatrist to try to find some answers. But when he steps into the office of Dr. Jerome Davenport (Denzel Washington), Fisher refuses to speak and simply sits in silence. Davenport informs him that regulations require three sessions before he can be released, so if he ever wants to leave, he’d better start to talk. But instead, the silence continues, even though the first session can’t begin until Fisher decides to speaks. So days pass and Davenport does his paperwork, until he finally gets a response from the young sailor. The conversation starts off with a question about fighting, but soon enough, Fisher opens up about his past. As time passes, he reveals a series of dark, unpleasant events that have entered his life, from the loss of his parents to multiple incidents of abuse. He found harm by the hand of almost all those he has encountered and by turn, his temper has turned brash and violent. But can Antwone find some kind of peace within himself, so he can create a new, better life for himself?

This movie has some real power and genuine emotion, but it runs on the slow side and that lessens some of the impact. The highest peaks still resonate, thanks to some great writing and performances, but some of the lower impact moments come off as a tad flat, since the pace drags so much at times. About halfway through the movie, which runs at almost right at two hours, things begin to settle out however, as the pace quickens just enough. If the entire picture could have moved at this rate, Antwone Fisher would have been much better. But the slow stretches are well used, to develop characters and build atmosphere, I just think a little faster movement could have helped audiences a shade. Even so, the emotional content here is well crafted and effective, especially the conclusion. And since this is a true story, there’s added meaning and impact, since someone actually experienced all this turmoil in their life. The sense of realism gives Antwone Fisher a special edge, but the performances are what drives this motion picture. In addition to serving as director, Denzel Washington turns in a fine effort, but the show belongs to first timer Derek Luke, who brings a raw presence here. I can more than recommend Antwone Fisher as a rental, but as a purchase, only to those who loved it the first time around.

He has been in numerous pictures and even took home an Oscar, but now, Denzel Washington has moved behind the camera. As soon as he read the screenplay for this project, he knew he wanted to direct Antwone Fisher. So he makes his directorial debut with this movie and while he’s better in front of the camera, he is solid behind it as well. He lets the first half meander too much, but after an hour or so passes, the direction begins to show some polish. Some trims here and there might have helped things out, but Washington has made a solid first effort here. In addition to his directing work, Washington also stars in Antwone Fisher and of course, he hands in a great overall performance. He is able to work well with his rookie costar, which enhances the youngster’s performance more than a little. I was glad to see Washington was satisfied with his smaller role, so he allowed his young costar to shine through. Other films with Washington include The Pelican Brief, Crimson Tide, Training Day, Philadelphia, Malcolm X, Remember the Titans, John Q, and The Bone Collector. The cast also includes Derek Luke (Biker Boyz, Pieces of April), Novella Nelson (The Cotton Club, Judy Berlin), Joy Bryant (Showtime, Carmen: A Hip Hopera), and Salli Richardson (The Great White Hype, Soul of the Game).

Video: How does it look?

Antwone Fisher is presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. A separate pan & scan release is also available, but why anyone would want to lose half the visuals is beyond me. In any event, this is another great looking new release from Fox. The print is very clean and the image is quite sharp, which means the visuals are never held down. The film has a limited color scheme in most scenes, with a lot of natural shades and since it is about a sailor, tons of blue hues can be seen throughout. The colors come off in great form too, though with a more natural spectrum, don’t expect vibrant shades in every scene. The contrast holds up well also, with stark black levels that provide good detail at all times. I couldn’t find much to complain about here, as Fox has done some excellent work on this release.

Audio: How does it sound?

This movie has a laid back audio approach, so the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack focuses on atmosphere, instead of power. This is good news, since the material is mostly driven by dialogue and needs a reserved, natural environment. In the outdoor scenes, some extra life comes through to create that atmosphere, but it is mostly subtle touches, like the wind, leaves rustling, and other background presence. The music also has some added texture, using the surrounds to immerse the audience, very well done indeed. The main focus is on dialogue though, so the vocals are sharp and never show any errors. This disc also includes Spanish and French language tracks, as well as subtitles in English and Spanish.

Supplements: What are the extras?

An audio commentary starts us off, as director/star Denzel Washington and producer Todd Black discuss the production. The tone is light and even humorous at times, as Washington provides an energetic presence. Black contributes a lot to the session, but Washington is the main draw here, hands down. A trio of featurettes can also be found here, one with the real Antwone Fisher, the second about the Navy’s relationship with the movies, and the last a general, promotional behind the scenes piece.

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