Plot: What’s it about?
Walter Richmond (William Hurt) seems to be on a real roll of late, with his latest success just a short time off. He has become a terrific businessman and now, he has taken his family with him to Amsterdam, where he plans to close a very lucrative business deal. This deal involves millions and millions of dollars, so Walter is very well served to be a part of it, which is why he has his loved ones in tow. His wife, Cathryn (Jennifer Tilly) and his mute daughter, Melissa (Francesca Brown) can have a sort of vacation while he works, which also allows him to spend more time with them, which he loves. But when Melissa bears witness to a brutal murder, the vacation is over and the Richmonds need to remain alert if they wish to return home alive. As Melissa tries to avoid capture by those involved, her parents attempt to figure out what happened while she was missing, before it is too late. Will this vacation turn out to be a fatal one, or can Melissa and her folks manage to emerge intact?
In the realm of direct to video thrillers, there are so many bad ones out there, it can be almost impossible to find the good ones. So with a little hesitation, I put the disc for Silent Witness (also known as Do Not Disturb) in the player and gave it a spin. The cast has a few names involved, such as Jennifer Tilly, William Hurt, and Denis Leary, so I was expecting some good performances, though little else. In the end, this is a decent enough flick, although I was let down by the work of Tilly and Hurt, who I expected more from. These two were not on their games here, but thankfully Michael Chiklis steps up and saves this one. I wasn’t even looking for Chiklis here, but he impressed me and I hope to see more from him soon. Silent Witness has some nice car chases and comedic pieces, but it never seems to ramp up much, which leaves it at the middle ground. It was good enough to watch once, perhaps a couple more times, but never offers enough to warrant frequent viewing. Even so, I recommend Silent Witness as a rental, to those interested, as it is worth a look.
As I mentioned above, I didn’t even know Michael Chiklis was in this film, but he ends up keeping it from sinking, so his casting was a good choice. I think Chiklis is best known for his work on the television series The Commish, but his skills are more impressive than you might expect. He hasn’t done much else in terms of film work, but his handful of roles are well played nonetheless. I was pleased to see him step up his performance to cover for the others here, as Silent Witness would have tanked without his presence. You can also see Chiklis in Carlo’s Wake, Soldier, The Rain Killer, Body and Soul, and Nixon. I was not as taken with the rest of the cast, which includes William Hurt (Dark City, The Big Brass Ring), Jennifer Tilly (Bride of Chucky, Bound), Corey Johnson (Saving Private Ryan, The Mummy), Francesca Brown, Michael A. Goorjian (Hard Rain, Forever Young), and Denis Leary (Demolition Man, Jesus’ Son).
Video: How does it look?
Silent Witness is presented in a 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. This transfer looks very sharp and smooth, which leads me to mark down high scores here, one of Studio’s finest visual efforts to date. I saw no problems with contrast, as the black levels were well defined and no traces of detail loss are evident. The colors shine here also, very rich hues and natural flesh tones, with no real flaws to discuss. I saw minimal compression issues and other errors, this is one fine visual presentation in all respects.
Audio: How does it sound?
This disc houses a Dolby Digital 5.1 track, which provides a full audio experience. This film doesn’t offer as much chance for rich audio as more action driven films of course, but this mix still supplies some nice moments. The film’s musical score sounds good here, every immersive and no problems with crispness. Some scenes have a lot of surround use, but the sound effects usually remain in the front channels, though it still sounds good. No trouble with dialogue either, as the vocals are clean and very crisp here, no volume issues to report in the least. This disc also includes a 2.0 surround track, French 5.1 track, and Spanish & English subtitles.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This disc includes a nine minute behind the scenes featurette, the film’s trailer, trivia game, some production stills, talent files, and a nine minute behind the scenes “tour,” whatever that is supposed to mean. Given the history of Studio’s Millennium Series, I am disappointed with this selection of extras, as there isn’t even a commentary track, which is a staple of all Studio discs, even lower level ones.