Plot: What’s it about?
Jack Terri (John Travolta) has a rather unusual job, as he records special effects for horror movies, to enhance the experience. He is a master sound technician and is able to capture a lot of unique, effective sound effects, via various methods. At times, he is even surprised by the nature of some of his recordings, but never as much as in this case. As he was doing some sampling for a project, he heard a strange noise and recorded it, right off the bat. It turns out the noises were part of an automobile accident and a bad one at that, one which killed a presidential candidate and injured the man’s mistress, Sally (Nancy Allen). As Jack delves deeper into the accident, he discovers it could have been a political assassination, which his recordings could help prove, of course. But he begins to put together more and more pieces, all the while aware of the potential danger involved. Has Jack recorded evidence that the accident was no accident, or has his work on all those horror movies tainted his mind?
If you ask me, Blow Out is one of those movies that is great as you watch it, then not so good once you think about what you’ve just seen. But even as I watched it again and again, it was rich with suspense and held my attention, even with logic problems and such. So if you just sit back and watch, Blow Out is an engrossing suspense thriller, with good performances, a solid premise, and ample direction. But if you go in with a critical mindset, you’ll note all the plot holes, missteps, and other flaws, which of course, lessens the experience. As such, I recommend just letting the flick entertain you, even if you’re one of those people who love to find all possible flaws, which is a habit I find very annoying, without a doubt. DePalma’s direction is good, Travolta’s performance is great, and the movie keeps you glued to the action, which is about all we can ask of a thriller, I think. I wish MGM has included some extras like they did with Carrie and Dressed to Kill, but with a low price and a lot of appeal, Blow Out is still more than recommended.
I don’t think Blow Out is one of director Brian DePalma’s best overall films, but I do think his writing here is superb, perhaps his best work in that respect. I know it is flawed at times, but DePalma supplies a complex, well executed storyline and it is a good one, with a lot of nice twists and unexpected stops. In terms of direction, DePalma is his usual self and while not at the top of his form, his work is still more than solid. He fills the running time with tension and well lined visuals, but the real emphasis is on sound, which is another reason I like this one so much. Yet he still manages to borrow from other sources, as we expect from DePalma, although not as much as usual, which is good news in this case. Other films directed by DePalma include Phantom of the Paradise, Carrie, Mission to Mars, Obsession, The Untouchables, Sisters, and The Fury. The cast here includes John Travolta (Battlefield Earth, Swordfish), Nancy Allen (The Philadelphia Experiment, Robocop), and John Lithgow (A Civil Action, Princess Caraboo).
Video: How does it look?
Blow Out is presented in a 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer, with a full frame edition included on the disc’s flip side (but who wants pan & scan??). I have heard some complaints about the image being overly soft, but I think this is how it should be, as opposed to being weighed down by edge enhancement, to produce a sharper picture. I think most of the complaints came from first time viewers, unaware of what to expect here in terms of visuals. A lot of DePalma’s films have this look and while it isn’t as sharp as more modern efforts, it isn’t supposed to be and looks very natural here. The colors are bold and never falter, while black levels are rich and very well defined, impressive stuff indeed. This is by far the finest home video transfer for Blow Out and as a result, I doubt fans will let down in the least.
Audio: How does it sound?
I was certain we’d see a new Dolby Digital 5.1 track here, due to the audio driven nature of the film, but instead, we have a simple 2.0 surround option. I wasn’t too impressed with the results either, as the mix seems pretty flat and even thin at times. The sound is not bad by any means, but it should have and could have been better, especially if given a well mastered 5.1 enhancement. The audio here is passable however, it just lacks the immersive traits the film needs to shine. But I’ve never heard a better home video treatment for Blow Out, so fans should still be pleased. This disc also includes a Spanish language track, as well as Spanish and French subtitles.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This disc includes the film’s theatrical trailer.