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Fox // PG-13 // April 24, 2007
List Price: $26.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Thomas Spurlin | posted April 27, 2007 | E-mail the Author
If a hearty helping of Saw's demeanor and sprinkles of A Beautiful Mind made their way into a mixing bowl with watered down, faith centric seasonings, then Thr3e would be the dish of the night. Strikingly familiar, this film mimics positive elements from the aforementioned films, namely a killer's motive to teach a stringent life lesson and a young man's eternal strife for intelligence amidst a troubled, wavering mentality. Though rough around the edges by trying too hard to be smooth for a tamer demeanor, Thr3e still squeezes out enough liveliness worth a watch for those in need of an alternate tale of forced moral attrition.

The Film:

There's a crosshair target focused upon the head of young seminary student Kevin. Studious and inconspicuous in class, his natural gloomy demeanor instantly reflects swallowed-down torment. Apparently, the straight-laced, developing man of God has a dark secret that needs confessing, and fast – or so a growling voice tells him through a mysterious cell phone call. Moments afterwards, the danger becomes obvious as he escapes from his car as it explodes in fury. Proved by etchings upon his car door, this psychopathic killer heavily intends of making Kevin "confess" at any cost. Kevin's survival after the acts from this infamous Riddle Killer throws a kink into the formula, as none of his victims have ever survived the first attempt.

Alas, this isn't the first time the mysterious killer has ensnared violence to teach a lesson. Jennifer, a cop recovering after a tragic accident involving this same killer, senses this familiar pattern amidst the established police investigation as the same as the one that brought her brother to death. As the case develops once Kevin brings his deep concerns to the police, Jennifer swallows her discomfort down to assist in the matters personally. What follows is a tumultuous chase to the finish involving Kevin, the unwelcome law enforcement, and this mysterious, moral-driven psycho. As harrowing as Kevin's scramble for life seems, a deeper malice resides within his past underneath his true confessions of which the Riddle Killer speaks.

Thr3e feels dangerously like watching the afterthoughts of a very familiar movie. It borrows so many elements from modern tales of justifiable brutality, and then downshifts the customary harsh grittiness and exploitation. Forget the plethora of grueling trap scenarios, for this is a much tamer production that only begins with one such trap. Instead, Thr3e strives to swallow down this absence of persistent malice by replacing it with some soft theological and moral hearsay. Without being off-putting, this added element sparsely fiddles with those ideas without dwelling terribly long. The preaching is evident, but not too vigorous to deter focus on the story at hand.

Adapted from the novel by Ted Dekker, this story surfaced in conception before familiar films like Saw hit celluloid. Labeling this story as a replica can't really be accurate, though both stories feel quite similar. Cinematically, however, the film adaptation shares the same attempted grime and aesthetics as its boorish predecessor. That's not really a bad thing; giving more thin-skinned individuals a tamer alternative works quite well to its favor. If the more grueling of films had wedged into your cinematic library, however, this flick won't seem that impressive.

Where Thr3e lacks the most is within its diluded level of tension. Some of the cinematic choices suppress the necessary "hair-raising" effect that grips the viewer and send their rear to the edge of their seat. What stinks is that this depletes from the menace of the villain as well. Instead of taking us into the grit and grime of a holy man's dissected morality and sanity, it hovers above and keeps us at a distance so not to be offensive. This is admirable in cause; however, it also could have slipped onto the screen a little more effectively. Though much more docile that it should be, Thr3e still sustains a smooth, unobtrusive flow of moderately compelling narrative all the way until the meager twist at the finish line. Be sure to go in with light expectations, because that might result in a mild, pleasant surprise with Thr3e's delivery.

The DVD:

The Video:

Thr3e comes from Fox in an anamorphic widescreen image. Pixelation, edge enhancement, and overall grainy quality are standard features in Fox's pre-release screeners. In all, the slate palette looked fine amidst the messy image presentation. Certainly, this presentation will look better on the final product.

The Audio:

Mainly, this Dolby 5.1 audio track encapsulates all the channels well, but was quite soft. All the channels were decently active and such, but the lower bass channels felt pretty washed out. Amidst the random explosions and such during the film, the explosions seemed like they went off in a tin can, with a high-pitched, thin body. Dialogue wasn't very strong, though not terribly difficult to make out. This wholly lackluster, mediocre presentation manages to get the job done without anything exceptional.

The Extras:

Zip, except for Trailers and a Scene Selection.


Final Thoughts:

Thr3e takes the cinematic road heavily traveled, yet slides into the genre with reasonable grace. Though it feels familiar, there's still inklings of tension and mildly interesting moral and sociological points that make this film worth a watch – maybe even a second after the twist. However, after the freshness wears off on this picture, Thr3e is just plain average and worth a Rental.

Thomas Spurlin, Staff Reviewer -- DVDTalk Reviews | Personal Blog/Site
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