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Category:    Home > Reviews > Comedy > Drama > Urban > Thriller > Military > The Matador + Derailed + Harsh Times (2005 – 2006/Weinstein Company Blu-ray)

The Matador + Derailed + Harsh Times (2005 – 2006/Weinstein Company Blu-ray)

Picture: B     Sound: B+     Extras: B/C-/C     Films: B/C/C

Here we have three films currently being released by Vivendi Entertainment on Blu-ray, all making their second appearance on a high-def. format after having been released in 2006 and 2007 on DVD and now defunct HD-DVDs.

The Matador is the best film of the lot, featuring an excellent performance by Pierce Brosnan as Julian Noble, a crass hit man who strikes up an unlikely friendship with Danny Wright, a salesman who happens to be in Mexico on business. Eventually Julian will need his help in carrying out one last kill so that he might live without having a hit on himself. The story is surprising and fun, and doesn't go over the top like so many other comedies with a killer feel the need to. It is more smartly written than one might assume, and should rightfully have been a bigger hit.

Derailed is a by the numbers thriller, directed by Mikael Håfström, who has since gone on to do Stephen King's 1408 and most recently, The Rite, starring Anthony Hopkins.  This was the very first film to be released by The Weinstein Company back in 2005, and stars Clive Owen as Charles Schine and Jennifer Aniston as Lucinda Harris.  The two meet on a train and after a casual meet-up, arrange for a romantic tryst in a seedy motel.  This is intruded upon almost immediately by an attacker who barges in and proceeds to rape Lucinda before anything can happen between she and the married Charles.  Nothing here is as it seems, however, and the movie plods along until it reaches it's rather predictable conclusion.

Harsh Times is a crime drama directed by David Ayer, known best as the writer and producer of the 2001 film, Training Day.  It stars Christian Bale in an intense portrayal of ex-solider Jim Davis, who is suffering from post traumatic stress disorder.  We watch his life as he attempts to get a job with the LAPD, and influences his friend Mike hanging out and avoiding getting a job of his own.  Bale's performance carries the film, despite there being little going on story-wise throughout.

All three films look and sound great and use the same image transfers that were used on the previous HD-DVDs.  As these are not premium reissues, I'd bet that the same high definition materials were recycled here, but that's no bad thing.

The films are anamorphically enhanced, and Harsh Times has an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, while the other two films are in 2.35:1.  Sound is presented in 5.1 surround mixes for all three films, with The Matador being in Dolby, and the others in DTS-HD Master Audio and in their cases are upgrades from their out of print HD-DVD editions, all reviewed elsewhere on this site.

Extras for the films are adequate, with Derailed having the least, with only deleted scenes, a making-of, and a trailer on the disc.  Harsh Times does a little better, forgoing the trailer, but adding commentary with director David Ayer.  The Matador comes in with the most supplements, featuring two commentary tracks, along with trailers, deleted scenes and a behind the scenes featurette.

If you're a fan of any of Brosnan's past work, I'd recommend picking up The Matador ASAP.  It isn't as heavy as the other two movies covered here are, but is more intelligent overall.  As for Derailed and Harsh Times, they are worth at least one viewing, but would hesitate before buying either unless you can get them cheaply.

 David Milchick


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