Excess Baggage Blu-ray Review


A Del Toro Masterwork

Benicio Del Toro is this movie. It’s not the writing of his character, an outcast, manipulated car thief. Rather, Del Toro’s splendid, distinct mannerisms turn this routine crook into a masterfully composed and likable antihero. His work is award worthy here. If only Excess Baggage’s surroundings let this performance breathe.

Excess Baggage rests in the heart of the ‘90s. It’s a post-Clueless Alicia Silverstone vehicle, or at least that’s the intent. Silverstone is escaping from excess, running from her father who sees everything in dollars, including her. That’s a running theme. Tied up in a phony kidnapping scheme gone wrong, Excess Baggage stars two Silverstone and Del Toro escaping from money, chased by those who run towards it. Those after a bag of cash experience anxiety and desperation. Money only causes problems. Countering the hyper-rich, Wall Street-obsessed ‘80s, Excess Baggage shifts the dialog.

Countering the hyper-rich, Wall Street-obsessed ‘80s, Excess Baggage shifts the dialog

Silverstone is fine. She plays a spoiled 18-year old with angst toward her rich father, trying manipulative, soft rebellion to get attention, probably after a diet of Nirvana – again, the ‘90s. Soundtrack selections from the Wallflowers and Dave Matthews further set the period. Then comes Del Toro, a misfit, but a caring one. He tells Silverstone to stop smoking. There’s a subtle moment where, like the father figure she doesn’t have, he subtly pulls her off the road to safety. For a criminal, he’s against type the entire runtime.

The first two acts play out like an odd psychological experiment. Both Del Toro and Silverstone become trapped by one another, going through individual routines of Stockholm Syndrome. By circumstance, the duo become shared victims. Del Toro cannot let anyone reveal his crimes, Silverstone wants her original plan to work. The set-up is a fascinating plot device. Watching the two bounce off each other while needing to keep together for their own selfish reasons turns into an interesting sociological study.

But then comes the romance. That’s forced, even awkward. Blame Hollywood norms; they can’t resist two marquee stars hooking up. In the middle of a stuffed third act, Excess Baggage wastes time bringing Del Toro together with Silverstone. It’s even creepy, in consideration of Del Toro’s father-like dialog. The script wants Del Toro to soften, but he begins Excess Baggage in that state. He’s melting by the end. Excess Baggage moves from a divergent buddy story to traditional romance caper. In that, Excess Baggage runs aground, forgettable, and smothering a Del Toro character worthy of discussion.

Video

Mill Creek issues Excess Baggage in a retro “I Love the ‘90s” faux-VHS packaging. That seems right. It appears Mill Creek compressed this transfer in the ‘90s. That, or they took a DVD and sent the data to a Blu-ray. The closest modern equivalent to the mass of artifacting and blocking is basic cable. Even DVDs generally avoid this level of digital concern.

Not much is being hidden. The mastering looks to come from the same time period, riddled with ringing and questionably noisy grain. Sour resolution offers no benefit, and without clarity, forget basics like fine detail. Compression suffocates fidelity in each frame.

The color is passable. A little flat, but some primaries find a way out. Black levels exhibit density too. Those positives cannot make up for the mess everywhere else.

Audio

Because old fashioned is in vogue, a compressed Dolby Digital track comes on this Blu-ray. In terms of basics, it’s a fine track. There’s plenty of motion during action scenes. Ambiance stands out with chirping insects at night to restaurant interiors opening up with clanging dishes. A bit of rain is well mixed too.

For what Excess Baggage requires, Dolby Digital suffices. Dialog clarity and consistency earns a nod. Range doesn’t stretch anything and no real low-end power is utilized, other than a small rumble during a fire.

Extras

Nothing.

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

Excess Baggage
  • Video
  • Audio
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3

Movie

Benicio Del Toro creates a character worth remembering in Excess Baggage, an otherwise forgettable rebellious teen movie.

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