Digital Week - January 29th
Blu-rays of the Week
American Renegades (Lionsgate)
In this efficient if undistinguished action flick, a group of American soldiers in Bosnia agrees to bring up from the surface of a nearby lake a cache of gold hidden by the Nazis—but have to fend off local criminal elements (and the men’s own superior officer) before they can succeed. Director Steven Quale’s by-the-books narrative has a few tense underwater moments near the end, and J.K. Simmons gives his typically blustering performance as the commander. There’s an excellent hi-def transfer; extras comprise several on-set featurettes.
Humans 3.0 (Acorn)
The third season of this daring (if at times desperate) sci-fi series begins a year after “day zero”—when a cataclysmic event killed hundreds of thousands of people and gave consciousness to many “synths,” which has caused consternation across the globe. The lines that have been drawn between both camps in a tense and difficult-to-navigate world is interestingly if insufficiently explored, and a game cast does its best to keep this diverting and watchable. The eight episodes look great in hi-def; extras include cast and crew interviews.
Judgment Night (Warner Archive)
Four clueless buds who get lost in a shady section of Chicago while driving to a boxing match in a Winnebago—don’t ask—witness a killing and find themselves chased within an inch of their lives by a tough hombre and his minions in Stephen Hopkins’ fast-paced but imbecile 1993 thriller. The movie functions mainly as a look at the beginnings of a few careers—namely, Denis Leary, Cuba Gooding Jr., Jeremy Piven and Stephen Dorff—as well as the continuation of Emilio Estevez’s, with a few fun scenes amid the dross. There’s a quite good hi-def transfer.
The Prize (Warner Archive)
In this sluggish 1963 mystery, Paul Newman plays a Nobel-winning author who feels something isn’t right about another honoree, and finds himself in trouble while investigating—including nearly being killed. This is Hitchcockian in theory, but in practice director Mark Robson’s 135-minute drama has little urgency to it. And all that despite a top pedigree: Newman, Edward G. Robinson, Elke Sommer and Diane Baker are in fine form, Ernest Lehman (North by Northwest) wrote the script, and the Stockholm locations are undeniably photogenic. But it ends up being little more than a passable time-waster. The hi-def transfer is first-rate.
Speed Kills (Lionsgate)
A puffy John Travolta at least looks like he’s having fun playing a gangster who loves fast boats and fast women in this based-on-a-true-story drama that has a couple of entertaining water sequences to go with inexplicable things like a goofy cameo by a miscast Matthew Modine as George Bush the elder. In a movie like this, the women who play Travolta’s love interests have virtually nothing to do, but they do try: so my hat’s off to Jennifer Esposito and Katheryn Winnick. The film looks good in high-def.