In 10 Words or Less
Technically intriguing film gets mired in mystery
To me, Val Kilmer's career began with Top Secret!, hit its peak in Real Genius and ended with Top Gun. From there on, some alternate-universe Kilmer took over, turning him into a serious actor, which took his career into a direction he's received much criticism for. I still look forward to watching him in anything he does, but inside, I wish Alterna-Val would leave and the old Val would return to the comedies he started in.
Such is not the case in Blind Horizon, another in a long line of psychological thrillers centered around a highly-complex conspiracy. Kilmer is Frank Kavanaugh, a man found left for dead in The Middle of Nowhere, New Mexico. He awakes with amnesia, but he knows there's something he's supposed to remember. As he recovers, various factors cause him to remember bits and pieces of what's happened to him. It's those pieces he'll have to put together to figure out who wanted him to die and who is trying to kill the president, a plot he fully believes will come to pass, despite having no proof.
Like any good conspiracy story, this movie has red herrings a plenty, and they are all played by actors recognizable enough to prevent any natural biases from giving away the story. Neve Campbell gives a decent performance as Frank's fiancee, while Sam Shepard gives the film its recommended daily allowance of ruggedness. In more underdeveloped parts, award-winner Faye Dunaway is a shadowy figure working behind the scenes, Amy Smart is Frank's nurse and Giancarlo Esposito is a reporter who seems to show up when stuff is going down. If you can guess who's the bad guy, you're a good judge of character.
Kilmer is decent as Kavanaugh, portraying a man lost in his own mind, but he spends much of the film being confused, which is good in a way, since the audience will empathize. The film is loaded with flashbacks and visual tics, which serve to disorient, but I'm not sure it's helping to create the kind of head-games Memento used to wow audiences. Instead, it instills a sense of "What else can happen?" And then, that question is answered with a skull-bashing. It's just that kind of film, where restraint was not practiced.
Blind Horizon is delivered on one black keepcase-enclosed DVD, without an insert. The disc features anamorphic widescreen menus that are animated in the style of the film, setting the tone of the movie. Menu options include play movie, scene selection, audio set-up and special features. Language options are English Dolby 5.1 and 2.0, but there are no subtitles. The scene selection menus have still previews and titles for each scene.
The anamorphic widescreen video is nicely reproduced on DVD, with beautiful color (a key to the movie (see The Extras)), excellent fine detail and just a bit of grain. There's a lot of visual trickery and editing magic in this film, and the presentation makes it all look very nice. There's no dirt or damage in here at all.
The 5.1 soundtrack is a very active affair, with plenty of separation between the speakers. The directionality and power of the sound makes for a total experience when combined with the artistry of the visuals. Created by a unique audio collective (again, see The Extras), the soundtrack had a lot of work put into it, and it comes through.
There's just three bonus features related to Blind Horizon on this disc, but they are quite interesting, even if you find you didn't dig the movie.
"The Cutting Room" is a 19-minute full-frame featurette focusing on the editing of the film. "Hosted" by post-production supervisor Jordan Kessler, it's an interesting discussion of how choices were made in editing and post-production. After the film was finished, Lion's Gate brought in another editor to, in essence, re-do the film in post. While those involved, with the director conspicuous in his absence, talk about various film-processing techniques (in order to "color code" scenes) and editing concepts, split-screen comparisons are shown to illustrate how different the delivered film is, versus the original edit.
Instead of being a separate feature, a set of deleted scenes are included in the featurette, woven into the editing featurette. When you stop to think about it, it's the perfect place to look at such material. For anyone interested in the filmmaking process, this is a fascinating examination of the creative battle that goes on once a movie is shot.
"Music by Machine Head" covers a different part of the process, this time the scoring and sound design. A group of technology-aided musicians, Machine Head works to give the film an aural theme, using non-traditional methods, made into a part of the overall post-production effort, instead of tracks placed into the film. The featurette shows how these methods were brought together, using a lot of interview material with the Machine Head crew and the post-production staff. Again, this is wonderful for anyone into movie music and new ways to create it.
Also includes is the red-band trailer (18 and over, only), a very engaging preview that doesn't give much away, but it's unfortunately presented full-frame. There's a trailer gallery as well.
The Bottom Line
It's The Manchurian Candidate as edited by a kid with ADHD. The story is a bit too much like the other conspiracy flicks we've seen, while the performances are disappointing, considering the level of talent involved. But saying all that, the entire effort is so slick and energetic that it becomes that late-night cable movie you just can't turn off until the credits roll. The DVD isn't stacked, but the featurettes are an interesting look at movie making. I would suggest a rental for fans of thrillers, non-linear movies and flashy effect-heavy films.
Francis Rizzo III is a native Long Islander, where he works in academia. In his spare time, he enjoys watching hockey, writing and spending time with his wife, daughter and puppy.Check out 1106 - A Moment in Fictional Time or his convention blog called Conning Fellow
*The Reviewer's Bias section is an attempt to help readers use the review to its best effect. By knowing where the reviewer's biases lie on the film's subject matter, one can read the review with the right mindset.