I love direct-to-video genre fare. Not because they’re necessarily good, they typically are the opposite, but it is a method of distribution that gives unknown/under-appreciated filmmakers an avenue to seek a potential audience. More often than not, you’ve never heard of these films until they pop up on the shelf of your local Best Buy or you catch a glimpse of the cover art while browsing Amazon. Typically, you’ll be caught off guard by the presence of some former A or B-list celebrity amidst a cast of unknowns. Such is the case with the recent Anchor Bay release THE ENTITLED.
When you first glance at the cover for THE ENTITLED, the first aspect you’re likely to notice is Ray Liotta’s angry profile. Never mind that his is the last name in the cast listed during the opening credits. No, he clearly is the selling point of the film if the cover is any indication regardless of how small a role he truly plays in the film. Which is amusing considering the recent turns his career has taken (STREET KINGS 2, really?). The “other guy” on the cover is Kevin Zegers, an actor I’m completely unfamiliar with but was apparently on the show GOSSIP GIRL, so I assume he has a fanbase but I doubt it is one that will be seeking out a film like this.
So, cover art and trivial celebrity appearances aside, does THE ENTITLED bring anything to the table? No, not really. The problem with the film primarily, and with much other DTV fare, is that it is entirely middle-of-the-road. This is far from being a flat out bad film but it is certainly not deserving of any praise either. The plot is a rather routine kidnapping set-up in which three young, trouble people kidnap three other young people (go figure). They hold them ransom for $3million and contact each individual’s respective father for the money, all who happen to be together and one of whom happens to be played by Ray Liotta (clearly a role he was born to play). The rest feels like it was pulled out of Scriptwriting 101.
The title of this review implies that very little logic is on display here and I intended it to mean just as such. There are moments in the film that defy logic in such a way that you have to wonder if anyone proof read the script and/or viewed the dailies. Hell, even if they did there are still jarring inconsistenices and continuity errors. Without spoiling anything, when we see a computer monitor attempting to show us the number 2 million it is typed as $2,000,00.00. Um, nobody on the set caught this? Really? It is this inept attention to detail that can, and likely will, pull viewers right out of the film. And this is only a small example of what I’m talking about. There are lines of dialog spoken towards the climax that practically negate scenes that have come before, which is probably why an alternate ending was even included in the supplemental features.
If THE ENTITLED has anything going for it, it is the performances. They really are not bad and make you wish that the performers had more to work with. The dialog goes from adequate to sub-par all the way down to laughably bad. There is such an emphasis on making the young kidnappers appear to be “dark” or “troubled” that they say things that feel as if they were plucked from some goth-teen after school special. At one point one of these youths asks another if he “has a problem”, the other answers “I’m looking at it”. That’s some inspired scriptwriting. Even Ray Liotta feels the brunt of the script, his performance is solid but he has horrible lines to deliver and you can tell that he isn’t putting his all into it, which is a shame as he used to be quite fun to watch. A decade ago.
THE ENTITLED isn’t all bad but it isn’t even close to all good either. A weak premise and a borderline laughable script hold it back from being as entertaining a diversion as it should be, but anyone looking for a quick, simple thriller could do a lot worse, regardless of the film’s shortcomings.
Anchor Bay’s blu-ray looks rather nice. It is full 1080p and has solid colors and blacks throughout. I can’t say I noticed anything bad to report here. The audio is handled similarly, but the music can get overpowering at times. I definitely had a couple instances where the music drowned out what characters were saying and this did not seem like an artistic decision but rather a poorly mixed soundtrack. Outside of that, it is a fairly solid, if not noteworthy audio presentation.
The supplements are typical of a release such as this. We get a brief EPK featurette that shows the writer and director discussing the film. It isn’t a bad watch but it doesn’t really offer any vital information. The aforementioned alternate ending is here and has portions of what is already included in the film in order to give a context. It is actually a much better ending and if included in the film, there may have been a more worthy end result. However, having it included here is commendable, regardless.
I can’t really recommend Anchor Bay’s blu-ray of THE ENTITLED, at least not as a purchase. The disc is pretty solid for a DTV release but the film just does not warrant multiple views and those who are enticed to see this can easily find better films to view. That said, it doesn’t make a bad rental if you’re hard pressed to find something.