Plot: What’s it about?
Vic Cooper (Stephen Baldwin) is an undercover agent who takes on the most dangerous of cases, but he has real problems with separation. Cooper often gets too close to his subjects and has a reputation as such. So of late, he hasn’t been given many cases and after this last one, that doesn’t look as if it will change. After some time inside a narcotics crew, Cooper tipped his officers to a plane loaded with drugs, but when the plane landed, it was full of shrimp instead. Cooper knows the drugs were on board, but has no clue as to how they were unloaded, until he sees a parachute driven child’s toy in action. Armed with a strong hunch, Cooper goes to a remote dropzone, where diving is life and the folks here are lifers. Cooper soon meets Star (Maxine Bahns) and after a first jump, he gets hooked on both the rush and the beautiful woman. As he talks to the folks there, Cooper begins to gather some information on the jumpers, which includes some priors involving narcotics. So as usual, Cooper delves deep into the case and soon spends of all his efforts with his newfound team. But when the time comes to close the case and lock up his new friends, will Cooper be able to make the separation?
Artisan has been hit & miss with their direct to video titles, but Cutaway proves to be a welcome addition to their resume of titles. I wasn’t sure what to expect from this one, but since I like some other parachute flicks, I wanted to give this one a spin. If you’ve seen Terminal Velocity and Point Break, then you know a moderate storyline can allow for some cool action and a fun movie, which is proven once again here. The writing is the weak link here, but in terms of action driven movies, Cutaway isn’t behind in that area too much. You might have to suspend disbelief at times, but come on, all movies demand that to an extent. The basics work well and the cast, man I like this cast a lot and it has a unique mixture of talent to say the least, but more on that later in the review. The cast is good here and the story is adequate, but the jump scenes…wow. I’ve seen a lot of jump scenes in movies, but none come close to the ones found here. In most cases, you can tell the actors have done their own jumps, which adds a lot to those sequences. I don’t think the actors did all of their own stuff, but in the scenes they did, it pays off in serious fashion. I recommend this fun flick to all those interested, as it offers a wild ride and the disc has some nice supplements.
When it comes to parachute sequences in flicks, no one does it better than Golden Parashoot, which has worked on such films as Eraser, Point Break, Dropzone, and Terminal Velocity. The best in their field, Golden Parashoot is a haven for aerial cinematographers, stunt jumps, and all things in the realm of skydiving. The writer & director of Cutaway, Guy Manos is a member of that team and when it comes to the subject matter, he knows it like the back of his hand. He is a veteran of the sport and even cutaway himself, when he left the real world to remain in the parachute realm. He and Golden Parashoot provide this film with a solid storyline, some excellent visual sequences, and in the end, a very fun motion picture. The cast here is a varied one, but all turn in solid performances and supply the film with some nice depth. Some of those present here include Stephen Baldwin (Bio-Dome, The Usual Suspects), Casper Van Dien (Modern Vampires, Starship Troopers), Dennis Rodman (Simon Sez, Double Team), Ron Silver (The Arrival, Timecop), Tom Berenger (The Substitute, Platoon), and the always beautiful Maxine Bahns (She’s The One, Spin Cycle).
Video: How does it look?
Cutaway is presented in a 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. Not all these direct to video titles are given a good treatment, but this disc has a very impressive anamorphic transfer. The colors look excellent here, from the blue skies to the green grass, all of which look rich in this transfer. I also saw no signs of bleeds here, while flesh tones come off as warm and natural. A few of the darker scenes look less than stellar, but on the whole, the contrast is well balanced and defined. I commend Artisan for giving this lower profile title such a warm DVD reception, perhaps other studios should take note.
Audio: How does it sound?
I wasn’t expecting much from this 2.0 surround track, but in the end, it handled the goods and then some. The film sports a hard rock soundtrack, which fits the material well and sounds very good in this mix. Of course, the music isn’t as expansive as it might be in a full 5.1 surround track, but this sounds excellent for a 2.0 surround option. The sound effects also sound good, especially during the jump scenes and the other action driven sequences. The dialogue isn’t buried in this mix though, as it comes through in clean and crisp form at all times. I do wish some subtitles were packed in here, but alas, no such luck.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This disc includes some extensive production notes, some talent files, and a trailer for the film. You can also spin two audio commentary tracks, both of which are worth a listen if you liked the picture. The first features writer/director Guy Manos, who discusses how the aerial sequences were done, anecdotes about the production, and also touches on how the story was written. The second track includes performers Stephen Baldwin and Maxine Bahns, who seem to have a lot of fun in this session. The two share stories about the shoot and laugh a lot, so this one is more for fun than insight overall.