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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Pistol Whipped
Pistol Whipped
Sony Pictures // R // March 4, 2008
List Price: $24.96 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Ian Jane | posted March 4, 2008 | E-mail the Author
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The Movie:

Steven Seagal's latest straight to video opus (a 'gritty, no-holds-barred action film' according to the hyperbole on the back of the packaging) finds him playing a guy named Matt. He has no last name, nor does he need one. He's just plain ol' Matt. At any rate, Matt likes to drink and he likes to gamble, as such, he's got some rather serious debts to some rather shady bookie types. One night, after loosing oodles of money at the local casino, he's taken to an abandoned movie theater by a well dressed guy holding a gun. The well dressed guy wants him to meet with a guy known only as 'the old man' (Lance Henriksen), a mysterious and covert type who explains to Matt that he specializes in 'extra-curricular justice.' He's willing to take care of all of Matt's debt, but in exchange he needs Matt to take out a couple of no-goodniks, starting with an obnoxious badda-bing-badda-boom mobster named Bruno.

While stalking Bruno in a fancy restaurant one night, Matt's approached by a pretty young black woman calling herself Drea (Renee Goldsbury). After she warns him about Bruno, he talks her home and she gives him some 'good lovin' (Seagal actually uses that term). Once he's gotten his rocks off, however, it's back to work for Matt, who is closing in on his target. What Matt doesn't know, however, is that there's much more to this conspiracy than he first realized and that it stretches back to his time on the police force and may very well put the life of his aquarium loving young daughter in grave danger.

Directed by Dutch filmmaker Roel Reine, Pistol Whipped's story is a bit of a mess but let's face it, very few people watch Steven Seagal movies for the story in the first place. Once the movie gets the initial setup out of the way, it delivers a few impressive shoot outs and some quality fight scenes, the kind that briefly remind us of just who Seagal used to be. He's still rather portly here and not even close to his physical prime, but at least there aren't any obvious stand-in's used in the fight scenes and the film is all the better for it.

The subplots with his daughter and with the Drea character definitely feel tacked on and unnecessary (and at times they drag the movie to a bit of a halt) and they really only serve to pad out the running time. Add to that the fact that Henriksen is completely wasted with his seven or so minutes of screen time and given very little to do aside from skulking in the shadows and acting overly mysterious. That said, if you want to watch Seagal wander around and beat people up (and if you're reading this, odds are pretty good that you do), this one does the trick. It's far from a masterpiece nor is it even close to the best film that Seagal has made, but it's a decent time killer and good, brainless entertainment.

The DVD

Video:

Pistol Whipped has been given an intentionally gritty and grainy look that doesn't really do the movie a whole lot of favors (at one point a hair appears on the right side of the frame... intentional or not?). The image is fairly soft and there are some mild compression artifacts present in a few of the darker scenes. That said, everything is perfectly watchable and while the fake grain is annoying, after a few minutes you sort of become immune to it. The anamorphic 1.85.1 aspect ratio looks proper as the compositions are all fine. Color reproduction and skin tones also come across fairly well even if the picture is periodically fairly soft.

Sound:

The English language Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound sounds pretty decent on this DVD. The shoot outs make decent use of the rear channels and the subwoofer while the more subdued, dialogue heavy scenes stay clear and audible. Levels are properly balanced and there aren't any problems with hiss or distortion. Optional 5.1 mixes are also provided in Portuguese and Thai while 2.0 tracks are available in French and Spanish. Subtitles are available in English, French, Spanish, Korean, Thai, Chinese and Portuguese.

Extras:

Aside from animated menus, chapter selection and trailers for other, unrelated Sony properties, you'll find a brief deleted scene and an alternate ending. The deleted scene, Kitchen Talk, is simply a brief conversation between Matt and Drea while the alternate ending is just completely sugarcoated and horrible.

Final Thoughts:

Seagal fans will enjoy this one as the mindless action film that it is. While the attempts at character development and engaging plot structure fail, the film is saved by a couple of decent fights and some decent gunplay. Seagal shows a little more enthusiasm here and tries harder here than in his past few films, but Pistol Whipped still turns out to be fairly average. Action movie buffs will probably be happy with a rental.

Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.

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