Who does Bruce Willis owe a favor? After Setup, the superstar delves into this mind-numbing, slow moving, Tarantino knock-off with zero original flavors. The box art claims Catch .44 is in the tradition of Reservoir Dogs and Usual Suspects, which is only slightly misleading. Name dropping what the movie is knocking off is right, insinuating this is anywhere near those pieces a travesty.
Catch .44 doesn’t go anywhere or do anything, finding it sufficient to book-end its narrative because it’s the “in” thing to do, piecing it together with long stretches of inane dialogue routines. Despite Bruce Willis hogging the cover art, it’s three females in the lead, headed by Malin Akerman. They’re criminally bound sisters, traveling to a small quaint diner as they stop for such thrilling activities as refueling.
Money is in their eyes, a job involving a stash of cocaine coming down the line from front man Mel (Willis). The sisters bicker and whine, distinctive personalities stating that they need to disagree to maintain an identity. Otherwise, they’re three hot women driving a car, something director Aaron Harvey has no trouble focusing on.
So much of Catch .44 feels wasted, extended dialogue never carrying the charm, wit, or story telling ability of what it’s trying to emulate. A traffic stop between the girls and Forest Whitaker is agonizing, the growing awkwardness effective for nothing other than reaching feature length. Never mind the blatant continuity grievance as Whitaker is wearing the uniform of a cop he shot in the head, not a single drop of blood staining the cotton.
Guns keep pointing at the screen or at other characters, impressive that anyone can keep such a lenghty firm grip under such intense pressure. Catch .44 is determined to eke out whatever tension it can build without knowing when to quit. A three-way stand-off can only go so far before the repetition and the, “who thought that accent was a good idea for Whitaker?” concept runs on fumes.
Willis will drop in for one of his two scenes to finish it off, winding the film down with a sluggish cowboy story that has no rich subtext to speak of. Calling is surface level is being kind, speaking down to an audience that prefers to spend years analyzing each word. Well, at least when Tarantino does it right.
There’s more to look at with this transfer than just pretty faces, a digital source producing extensively sharp, crisp results. The Red One MX will issue substantial black levels to a movie desperate for them. Much of the flick will take place during nighttime exteriors or strip club interiors, necessitating the shadow detail-preserving blacks.
Even under the lightly lit conditions, the definition spark will remain. Facial detail, excusing any focal softness, is exceptionally rendered. Intensity is supposed to be derived from a constant need to shoot in close, offering opportunity the source and this Anchor Bay encode has no trouble capturing. Medium shots perform equally well, even with a bit of inconsistency. Willis seems mostly shot through a filter or is partially digitally smoothed over.
Color schemes depart miles from each other, the diner casting a sickly glow to the flesh tones to the point of giving them a neon overcast. A strip club paints everyone in a blue tone, and natural daylight brings forth a lightly saturated, pleasing color selection. Each scene is draped with a distinctive palette for better or worse, none of them terribly detrimental.
Aliasing seems to be sole downfall of a likely down convert, cars and other objects with fine lines breaking up or shimmering during camera pans. Distractions are miniscule. The source is free from noise or any visible compression, offering an imperfection-free facade that can live on the clarity of digital.
Chances are the first five minutes will put the viewer to sleep making a shotgun blast at the seven minute marker the wake-up call. It rips through the low-end with a hearty burst and the highs capture the echo as is pings off the barren diner walls. Replays are just as intense, slowly bringing in additional firepower for more opportunities to show off.
Stereos are split to the sides extensively, keeping dialogue moving out of the center when visuals need it to. Cars pass and the soundtrack loves maintaining a presence. Guitar riffs are heard front to back, always natural. While mixed a little low, there’s a firmly maintained soundstage at work that’s better than the material itself.
One extra is offered, a commentary from writer/director Aaron Harvey and editor Richard Byard.
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