It's a shame that Evenhand comes to such a foreseeable end, because it had the makings of being a great police drama. But don't let my negative reaction to the conclusion deter you – it's still a very good movie and one worth picking up if you're a fan of this genre.
The story centers around two police officers – the hard-nosed and occasionally loose cannon Officer Morning (Bill Sage) and the more cautious, more compassionate recent transfer Officer Francis (Bill Dawes). Of course, this isn't the first time we've seen this "good cop"-"bad cop" pairing in a movie – but what makes Evenhand so good is in the realistic way these characters are presented. Morning isn't really an evil guy, nor is Francis a "goody two shoes". Both are real, well-rounded characters whose personalities have developed from their experience, or lack of it, on the police beat.
So, thanks to the way the characters are written, we don't get another rehash of Training Day or those dozens of movies just like it. And other than that "can see it coming down Main Street" ending that I've already mentioned, one of the glorious things about Evenhand is not only that it shows the mundane day-to-day life of a cop on the beat – it downright relishes in it. I can't remember another film that I've viewed recently where the "average" has been so much fun to watch.
There's a message in all of this – that one needs both the edginess of Morning and the soul of Francis to make a well-rounded cop – but Evenhand doesn't attempt to beat you over the head with it. In its simplest form, it's really a well-written buddy movie, and while that's not all the film is about, it's that core relationship between the two leads that makes this one of the more enjoyable "surprises" I have found on DVD this year.
Although the back of the box says "Widescreen Format," don't be fooled into thinking this movie is anamorphically enhanced. What we get is a non-anamorphic letterboxed picture, although the good news is that the picture is a pretty decent transfer, with little in the way of dirt or other defects on the print.
Viewers will have the choice of listening to either a 5.1 or a 2.0 Dolby Track. The 5.1 Track isn't tremendously aggressive, but it does sound reasonably good and will be the preferred choice for those with a 5.1 or greater audio set-up. Spanish subtitles are also an available option.
The biggest disappointment of the extras available on this DVD is the mind-numbingly dull Director's Commentary track by Joseph Pierson. The track sound like Pierson has prepared his statements prior to recording the track and is simply reading them as the movie goes along. On top of this, there are huge gaps of silence in the track that makes listening to it even more difficult.
Also on the DVD is a section of Deleted Scenes which, much to my surprise, actually included bloopers and outtakes from the movie. So if you're looking for a laugh or two, this section is worth checking out.
Mike Doughty Talks About His Evenhand Music is the longest featurette in the bonus section of the disc, and covers the selection of Soul Coughing tunes that make an appearance in the film.
THE BOTTOM LINE
This was a surprisingly good cop drama that holds up nicely to repeat viewings. Fans of both the cop-buddy genre, as well as those who enjoyed more serious fare like Training Day will want to add Evenhand to their collection.