(2012/Anchor Bay DVD)/Citizen Gangster
(2011/IFC/MPI DVD)/Safe (2011/Lionsgate
Blu-ray)/Stealing Las Vegas
(2012/Anchor Bay DVD)
Picture: C/C+/B-/C Sound: C+/C+/B/C+ Extras: D/B-/C/D Films: C-/B-/C/D
Gangster genre is so battered and played out, it is getting as ridiculous as
Zombie films. However, through the
package deals and duds this time, we found a little gem.
with Suri Krishnamma’s Bad Karma
(2012) with Ray Liotta playing to type as a bum and former criminal who has a
chance to get involved with a new caper, but is not certain he should, has
heart issues and is just not 100% himself.
The chance turns up when his old crime partner (Dominic Purcell) shows
up and eventually pushes him back into that life, but this turns out to be a
very bad variant of Liotta’s own Johnathan Demme film Something Wild except he is the victim and people shoot each other
all the time, showing the scripts desperation.
started out with some promise, but started to tank early and never
recovered. The actors are even good, but
these clichés are obnoxious and you are better skipping it. There are no extras either.
brings us to Nathan Morlando’s Citizen
Gangster (2011) a real Canadian film (made in the country by its actors
about its hard history) about a Canadian WWI veteran (Scott Speedman (the Underworld films) in a fine performance
and pretty much his best yet) who has a family and thinks he can make big money
by becoming an actor. Instead, after
several rejections, he decides to rob a bank and gets on a roll until he is
caught. However, this only introduces
him to more criminals including a tough ringleader type (Kevin Durand of Wolverine and the underrated 3:10 To Yuma remake) who helps him and some of
his friends break out of jail!
follows is a huge bank robbery spree where the gang (including Brendan Fletcher
(Roller Coaster, Rampage) in a role more to his superior
acting talents) and a spree that made crime history in the country. There are some great subtleties throughout,
making this a real nice slice of gritty Canadian life and though there are a
few down moments and a little predictability, that is all minor as compared to
the sweep of the film which is one of the best Gangster/Crime films in a while. I will not say anything else as not to ruin
this, but this is the kind of solid storytelling and performances we can never
see enough. Even the great Bryan Cox
include an Interviews featurette and Theatrical Trailer.
Yakin’s Safe (2011) is the latest
Jason Statham shoot ‘em/hit ‘em/kick ‘em up slap-together project and since it
is not made in England,
you know you are in for an incoherent mess.
In this case, we still get that tired shaky camera work, but also a
child-in-jeopardy script, but there are also some good fights, a watchable car
chase, goofy dialogue, Chinese and Russian Gangsters trying to get a secret
code for the genius female child and everyone disliking Statham’s character who
messed up a fixed fight and made illicit money people mad.
Add a few
unintentionally funny moments and it is one of his more watchable releases by
default. Unfortunately, it is still a
mess, but at least is not a total bore and the great veteran actor James Hong
plays the Triad boss. Extras include
Digital; Copy for PC and PC portable devices, Ultraviolet Copy, three making of
featurettes and odd feature length audio commentary by Yakin.
the worst for last with Francisco Menendez’s Stealing Las Vegas (2012) has Eric Roberts yawning and grinning his
way (when he shows up) as a money mogul whose beating up a young guy to find
out where a small stolen fortune is begin kept, then we get a prolonged (and I
mean long!) flashback to show how the heist happened. This is lame, goofy, couldn’t put a patch on
Scorsese’s Casino (1995) and has
more clichés than any such release since the last time 50 Cent made one. Yes, that’s how bad it is. Oh, and there are no extras.
anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on Vegas
and anamorphically enhanced 2.35 X 1 image on Karma are cheap, very soft and the worst-looking of the four
releases on the list. With too much
styling, bad editing, shaking cameras and color that never works, they are as
hard to watch visually as anything else.
The anamorphically enhanced 2.35 X 1 image on Citizen may be styled to look like it is from the near past, but it
is not slap-happy stupid about it and is the best-looking of the DVDs
here. I liked the look and locations,
making wish this one was a Blu-ray, but the DVD is about as good as it can
look. That leaves the 1080p 2.35 X 1
digital High Definition image transfer on Safe
as the default champion in playback, but shaky camera work, bad editing and
some other detail issues hold back the performance.
Dolby Digital 5.1 mixes on all three DVDs have soundfield inconsistencies and
other sonic limits, but they will suffice.
However, none of them can compete with the DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 7.1
lossless mix on Safe with a
consistent use of all the speakers, even though the dialogue can sometimes be
more in the center of the soundfield than I would have liked. Otherwise, it is pretty good.
- Nicholas Sheffo