Liberty Stands Still arrives on DVD this month, which is rather quick, considering it premiered on Cinemax a scant two months ago. Starring Wesley Snipes (Joe), Linda Fiorentino (Liberty), and Oliver Platt, the film was written and directed by Kari Skogland.
As Liberty Wallace, a VP at McCloud Guns, gets her drug fix from a local hotdog vendor, 'Joe' greets her on her cell phone, telling her that she is in the sight of his sniper rifle – a rifle manufactured by her company. With little choice other than to cooperate, she shackles herself to the hotdog cart, which is also rigged with a bomb that will denote when the battery of her cell runs out. Now with her complete attention, Joe reveals that he seeks revenge for the death of his daughter, who died in a school shooting, and wants to use her political connections and this incident to spark a public debate on the 2nd Amendment.
It's a bit hard viewing Liberty Stands Still in the wake of the recent sniper shootings that terrorized the D.C. area, though thankfully, they seem to have come to a conclusion with the recent arrest of several suspects. Fortunately, I had viewed the film about a month ago, via a screener DVD, and I was impressed with the film both then and now. Liberty Stands Still is a well-acted intelligent and taunt suspense drama with well-developed characters that gives the audience a real sense of what both leads are thinking, where they're coming from, and where, ultimately, they're heading. The film also poses some rather serious questions about the 2nd Amendment, such as whether it should be a right to own guns for personal use. However, the ending left me a bit unsatisfied – it works – but provides no real answers.
Liberty Stands Still is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. The transfer is generally crisp throughout, though contains some smaller specks and some visible grain, especially in the darker scenes. Colors are bright and vivid, with accurate flesh tones, and modest blacks.
Liberty Stands Still is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 in English. The track effectively uses the surrounds to enhance the film and convey ambience, such as throwing voices into the rears and having a helicopter fly by overhead in Chapter 20 that you don't see onscreen. Dialogue throughout is clean with no distortion. Optional English and Spanish subtitles are included.
The main extra on the disc is the audio commentary with Skogland, Gary Pearl (producer), and Jim Munro (editor). The three provide a wealth of information about the film and are clearly proud of the finished product. Skogland mentions her aspirations for the film and how she had to work with and modify them to fit with the limitations in the budget and locations. She also praises the actors, provides some anecdotes, and explains why the film was shot mostly in order and why Fiorentino insisted that she and Snipes not meet on the set. Fans of the film should definitely give the track a listen, as it is rather interesting.
The film is also available to play with Angle 1 or Angle 2, with the 2nd angle providing thirty minutes of alternate camera angles. Supposedly, the angles can be switched on the fly, but in randomly switching between angles during the film, I saw little if anything that was different.
Also on the disc are the film's trailer and a split screen feature showing up to four angles of a take for four different scenes. The split screen feature was also interesting, as it showed the film unmatted, though it had the aspect ratio lined off.
With the recent sniper shootings and theatrical release of Phone Booth, which looks to be similarly themed, Liberty Stands Still runs the risk of being overlooked on video shelves. However, fans of the leads or those looking for a taunt political drama should definitely give the film a look. Lion's Gate has provided the film with a great presentation, an interesting commentary, and a few other supplements at a reasonable price.