Plot: What’s it about?
When Gina Gallagher (Tracey Needham) is finally able to put the powerful head of a Colombian drug cartel behind bars for good, she thinks her work is that much closer to being done. But that is far from the truth, since the remaining members of the cartel don’t appreciate what Gallagher has done, so they vow revenge. While she is not afraid of the thugs at first, she finds herself almost helpless when her partner is murdered in an attempt on her life. She is quickly taken into protective custody, where once again she feels she might have found a safe place, where the cartel cannot harm her. And once again she is wrong, as even the men who protect her seem to have made a deal with the criminal element, and look to shut her up for good. As she runs, she discovers illegal activity going on at very high levels of the government, and she is losing hope by the minute that she’ll ever be safe again. But maybe she’s looking in the wrong places for help, and the man she needs to help her is not on the side of the law.
When you think of films that are produced to air on cable, your expectations are probably lowered. You think of bad acting, poor storylines, and low production values, and there are plenty of examples out there to justify those thoughts. But on the other hands, there films which defy that rationale, with Backlash certainly standing in that place. While Backlash can’t measure up to major motion pictures, it does make a place for itself among the best direct to cable fare. Given the nature of the movie, the casting works well with a few names you’re bound to recognize, and the performances are above what I expected. I do have some problems with the writing, but on the whole it above average, especially when you consider this was never meant to play theatrically. As far as production values, I was quite impressed with this film, which contained no cheesy backdrops or special effects, thankfully. All in all, a solid film which rises above the whole direct to cable mantra. It’s not cinematic greatness, to be sure, but it is well worth your time. And I think this disc is the best way to see the film, since the cable version lacks the supplements and DD 5.1 audio that this beauty packs.
This film was directed and cowritten by Jack Ersgard, whose brother Patrick also helped with the writing as well as taking a role in the film. Ersgard does a fine job here, given the obvious low budget limitations he was given. Other Ersgard films include Living In Peril, Mandroid, and Acts Of Betrayal. While this film has a handful of actors who share the bulk of screen time, I think one actor really takes the spotlight when present. While I had serious doubts about her ability, Tracey Needham comes through here quite well. She proves to be more than eye candy, although she still has plenty of room for improvement. I look forward to her future work, and hope she can score an interesting project soon. Two other major players in this film are Charles Durning and JoBeth Williams, both of whom give decent turns in this movie. Durning (The Hudsucker Proxy, I.Q.) seems to have fallen on hard times of late, but he proves here that he still has what it takes. Williams (Just Write, Wyatt Earp) on the other hand, seems to be sleepwalking through some of the film, even if her overall performance is solid. The final key player in this movie is James Belushi (Mr. Destiny, Taking Care Of Business) who turns in another top notch performance here.
Video: How does it look?
Backlash is presented in the original full frame aspect ratio. This film was a direct to cable production, so no widescreen version for us. I do know Columbia chose to offer a widescreen version of Made Men, another made for cable movie, but I am not sure why they passed this one over. Alas, this is not pan and scan to be sure, but a widescreen version would have been nice. The image we do get looks good, with no compression errors to note, and the print also seems sharp and without serious flaws. The colors are vivid without signs of distortion to be seen, and flesh tones appear natural and consistent also. The contrast is excellent as well, with well defined shadows and no detail loss to be found. It sure beats the television version, that’s for sure.
Audio: How does it sound?
While no widescreen version was minted for this release, Columbia did master a terrific Dolby Digital 5.1 track, which is well appreciated. This movie has some lulls in audio, but it also has some scenes that flat out rock. The surrounds will see enough action to keep you happy, and subtle use is effective and well done also. The dialogue is well replicated here as well, not one syllable is lost in the mix. A 2.0 surround is also found here, for those of you without extensive home audio components.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This release contains talent files for the cast and crew, a trailer for the film, and an audio commentary by director Jack Ersgard and writer/actor Patrick Ersgard. This is a decent track with some nice tidbits to be found, but it gets boring at times, for sure. Still, it’s nice to see a commentary track for a film of this nature.