Elmore Leonard remains a rightly beloved author, an amazing writer of such novels as "Rum Punch", "Out of Sight" and "Get Shorty". During the late '90's, Elmore Leonard was a hot property, with successful adaptations of all three ("Rum Punch" adapted to "Jackie Brown" by Tarantino), but - with every hot property, an effort or two fall by the wayside. In this case, one of those is "Touch", adapted and directed by Paul Schraeder. However, sometimes things are left by the wayside for a reason. "Touch" isn't a total loss, but its only big asset is Christopher Walken being more Christopher Walken than average.
The film stars Skeet Ulrich as Juvenal, a former monk who works at a rehab clinc in California. To the shock of observers, he starts going around curing people with his hands. When he heals people, he bleeds from his hands, sides and arms. In steps Bill Hill (Christopher Walken), a former minister and sleazy current RV salesman who believes that Juvenal could be just the ticket he needs for fame and fortune.
When he can't get in to see Juvenal himself, Bill sends in Lynn (Bridget Fonda) in order to try and get to Juvenal, and she succeeds in catching his attention. While he becomes fond of her, he also quickly realizes that she's faking being an alcoholic. As the two fall for one another, this dismays August Murray (Tom Arnold), a fundamentalist Christian and friend of Juvenal's - as he believes that Lynn is an impure woman.
This is one of those movies where I generally liked the performances (although Tom Arnold offers a worse performance here than in "Carpool"), but that just doesn't salvage what is otherwise an interesting story that's handled in dull fashion. The other issue is the acting - while I liked Fonda (and, by the way, whatever happened to Bridget Fonda?) and Walken, many of the players - including Lolita Davidovich as the mother of a sick child who Juvenal cured and Tom Arnold - overplay by quite a bit. Ulrich's not terrible, but he can't carry the film.
Another issue is that the story is just as overplayed as some of Arnold's performances. The movie's something of a satire of religion and the media, but it's not exactly subtle in its delivery - and while it's not subtle, it's also not really bringing any real insights to the table, either. There's also just not enough conflict - Walken's character wants to take advantage of Ulrich's...and that's really more or less the extent of it.
"Touch" does offer some classic Walken moments and Bridget Fonda is good enough to make one wonder whatever happened to her, but otherwise, the film is slow going.
VIDEO: "Touch" looks like it needs some touching up. The film is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen by MGM, but for a movie that's ten years old, the movie looks a little more worn than I'd have expected. Sharpness and detail are average, as the picture looked a touch soft throughout the show. While some softness was an issue, a larger concern was the fact that the picture displayed fairly frequent small scratches, marks and other issues. Some inconsistent grain and occasional edge enhancement was also noted. Colors looked fine, appearing warm and nicely saturated, with no smearing or other faults.
SOUND: The film's Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack does offer the terrific score from Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters, but otherwise doesn't have much else to offer. Surrounds are very limited, only offering some minor ambience and reinforcement of the score. Audio quality is fine, with crisp dialogue and score.
EXTRAS: Zip. Zero. Zilch.
Final Thoughts: "Touch" takes an interesting idea and doesn't run too far with it, offering up a heavy-handed take on religion and the media. Walken's performance is terrific and I liked Bridget Fonda, but there's not too much to recommend otherwise. The DVD offers mediocre image quality, decent audio quality and zero extras. Skip it.