Boy, talk about a movie that went under the radar.
Turn Of Faith was released in theaters sometime in 2001. One of two things happened: there was absolutely no advertisement, or it just plain sucked. Either way, this was my first time hearing about it. After sitting through it, I'm guessing the latter, but I can at least say it was a nice try. Here's a movie that most certainly should have been confined to TV, and not the big screen…I mean, the show it's trying to rip off (The Sopranos) is on HBO, for crying out loud.
To its discredit, though, I thought it was made-for-TV. Those who saw it in theaters (both of you) will know what I mean. Sure, the cinematography and sound are pretty good…very good, actually…but that's about the only thing that kept me watching. Seriously. In any case, when a movie rips off a TV show (as well as many other movies), that can spell disaster on any level...even though Scary Movie 3 is tops at the box office. But this isn't a spoof; it genuinely wants to be Goodfellas, Mean Streets, and of coure, The Sopranos. But while it imitates parts of each pretty well, it doesn't create anything new.
First of all, I think the biggest mistake was casting Tony Sirico (Paulie, from The Sopranos and the Academy Award-nominated "Stacker 2" commercials). Sure, he's one of the only bright spots in the acting, but having him in the cast was a bad move. He plays a virtually identical character to his TV tough-guy, so it gives the viewer a warped sense of déjà vu, the only cure for which is turning the DVD player off. I know the writer and director were aiming for the coattails of those other mob masterpieces, but they didn't have to make it so friggin' obvious.
Directed by seasoned veteran Charles Jarrott and (surprise, surprise) long-time-actor-first-time-writer Louis Eppolito, Turn Of Faith holds on to every cliché for dear life. The worst of these clichés is the central characters, three friends from "the old neighborhood" (there's a lot of those going around). Each chooses a different career path: one's a cop (Joey), one's a priest (Frank), and Bobby…well, I couldn't even figure out what he did. He played basketball, lifted weights, and chased girls a lot, so I'm guessing…middle school drop-out? Anyway, neither seemed to be very devoted to their calling in life, and the movie's scant 90-minute running time didn't allow for much character development. Ever worse, I found myself rooting for no one. The final conflict (Bobby's wife's father was mysteriously killed when she was a child) didn't seem to hold much weight, and made it hard to get into the story.
Speaking of Bobby's wife, let's talk about some other bad casting here. Mia Sara got the honor of playing the role, but I didn't buy it for a second. She carried herself like the innocent girl next door, not like the wife of a cop who knew how to take care of herself. She also forgot to include the obligatory mild New York accent for approximately half of her scenes. I just didn't buy that a "tough guy" like Bobby would ever go for that kind of girl. Moving on, the character of Bobby himself didn't seem like a good match for (ugh…boxer-turned-actor) Ray "Boom Boom" Mancini. Yeah, he had the toughness down, but not to a point where he seemed intimidating. His smaller size didn't exactly make him seem like a legitimate threat to his enemies, regardless of how loud he yelled. Also, whatever child actor played Bobby's son---Bobby Jr., naturally---was especially awful, and I cringed after each line spoken (thankfully, I think there were only two). Even in a small role such as this, they could have found a kid who didn't seem like he was reading from cue cards.
Hey, wait! Bobby, his wife, and his son were all miscast? Maybe they do belong together!
In addition to these problems, there were several scenes that should have been done over, but the low budget probably prevented a lot of retakes. Particularly funny is a funeral scene, where we can see the corpse breathing! It sounds creepy, I know…but this ain't a horror flick, and it wasn't done on purpose, so it really takes you out of the movie even more.
Anyway, let's wrap this up. Turn of Faith was made under the banner of the esteemed "Boom Boom Productions" company---which explained why it starred Ray Mancini, who also served as producer. It wanted to be something bigger, but the timing was all wrong. This sounds like a classic case of a team who had big ideas, but not enough of a budget to support them. If this would have been released ten years earlier, I'd have enjoyed it much more. There are a few good moments, but not enough to really hold any interest for the viewer. It tried hard, but Turn Of Faith just didn't get the job done. Regardless, let's see how the DVD from Warner Bros. holds up:
The video looks good here. Presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen, the cinematography is a sight for sore eyes (and ears). Daytime scenes look excellent, and even the darker scenes hold up pretty well. There were occasional spots of dirt seen here and there, but the print seemed very clean. Overall, the video was impressive, and it's good to see some positive points for the disc.
The audio was also great. We get a pretty nice 5.1 mix here…while Turn Of Faith isn't especially action-packed, there's a good ambience provided for the majority of the movie. Dialogue is easily heard, though sometimes sounded a little muffled (again, probably a budget issue). Overall, the audio was a pleasant surprise.
Yay, a trailer! The only proof that this ever made it to theaters. Too bad nothing else was included, but maybe that's a good thing in this case. The trailer itself isn't half bad, but it makes the movie seem more important that it really is.
Menu design and presentation:
Menus were pretty boring, and consisted of static menus. There's not much to explore here, though---the only options include "Play Movie", "Scene Selections", and "Trailer". Adding insult to injury, Turn Of Faith is also blessed by the packaging gods with…a snapper case! That about wraps it up.
Should anything else have been included?
I don't know. I get the feeling I've been too hard on this movie, but I wouldn't have really cared to learn any more about it. A commentary wouldn't have helped much, as I doubt anything could really help this one. The budget probably prevented anything else from being prepared for a DVD release, so I doubt there was much to work with anyway. Maybe a written apology from the writer, director, and most of the cast would have helped.
Man, what a shame. I was hoping to be pleasantly surprised by Turn of Faith, but that just didn't happen. Still, there's maybe a few interested parties that might enjoy seeing this…you're welcome to rent it, but the price will most likely keep this from being a worthwhile purchase. While the audio and video are pretty good, there's not much else to keep this from staying on the shelf. I'm just going to Skip It myself, as I didn't really enjoy it the first time...and I doubt it'll get better after repeated viewings (*shudder*). Turn Of Faith is one blatant imitation after another, and never really had a chance to be its own movie.
They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but flattery will get you nowhere.
Randy Miller III is a part-time cartooning instructor based in Harrisburg, PA. He also does freelance graphic design projects and works in an art gallery. When he's not doing that, he enjoys slacking off, general debauchery, and writing things in third person.