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Dave Bautista is a nice guy by many accounts. One time, the Washington D.C. native went to an elementary school that my sister-in-law attended, and her friend/Dave's daughter presented her Dad for Show and Tell. I don't know if he managed to talk about his time working in Blade Runner 2049 or not, but it certainly would have made for a cool experience. I guess what I'm saying is, Dave Bautista in an inevitable remake of Kindergarten Cop is what I would go for and what the country needs in its hour of need.
Before that, Bautista gets to show off his chops elsewhere, like in the action comedy Stuber. Written by Tripper Clancy (Four Against the Bank) and directed by Michael Dowse (Goon), Bautista plays Vic, a cop who undergoes laser correction surgery for his eyes. He's unable to drive, but discovers a breakthrough in an ongoing investigation that cost the life of his partner. So in the interim, he hires an Uber driver named Stu (Kumail Nanjiani, Men in Black: International), who is meticulous about maintaining a high-star rating and works at a sporting goods store during the day. Vic takes Stu on a drive that kicks Surge Pricing right in the taint, as he tries to crack the case.
The film's intent is pretty obvious from the jump; you've got to set up the backstory for at least one of the stars, get them in the car together, and let the rest of it sort itself out organically. The film banks heavily on the last part. The secondary chips sort of fall where they may; Vic's boss (Mira Sorvino, Romy and Michele's High School Reunion) tries to be supportive as the Captain. Vic also tries to maintain a relationship with his daughter Nicole (Natalie Morales, Battle of the Sexes), while Stu tries to sort out the feelings his has for his best friend Becca (Betty Gilpin, True Story). Some of the scenes with those involved work, some don't.
The film leans on the chemistry between Stu and Vic, using the time tested buddy comedy formula to do so. The problem in it is that Nanjiani and Bautista never seem to get on something considered the same page. The laughs are there, as is a moment or two of humor. But when it comes to bigger moments to carry the story along, those aren't there in Stuber. There's not much commitment and certainly little in the way of distinguishing moments for either character, but the scenes with Vic and his daughter are interesting and Bautista shows off a flash of emotional depth. Yet the film never seems to pick a secondary path of evolution for either character, falling back to default settings that countless similar films have done before. It feels like a cheat.
It would have been nice to see Stuber do more with what was in front of it, but it seems incapable of or unwilling to do so. It is fun to see Bautista do more things, now that professional wrestling is further in the rear view mirror for him. But you would expect others in the film to do their share of it, and many of the people involved do not seem to share the same verve for the film as he does, and it suffers as a result.The Blu-ray
Stuber comes to Blu-ray with an AVC encode and the 2.39:1 widescreen high-definition presentation is darned nice. Black levels are deep and inky, such as moments on the street or in a club have an excellent contrast to them. Image detail is consistent and color reproduction is vivid without being oversaturated. Flesh tones are natural and lack artificial hue (I could make out Bautista's tattoos!), and the image does not have any haloing or DNR to speak of. Looks pretty great, all told.The Sound:
The DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 lossless track gets you into the middle of the action early when Vic is serving a warrant with his partner, as lots of gunfire and shotgun blasts abound. Walking into a strip club later, the bass from the club soundtrack leaves the floor thumping, but the dialogue during the scene remains easy to listen to as dialogue sounds great for the duration. Channel panning and directional effects are evident and sound convincing, and there are no drop-offs during an otherwise dynamic soundtrack. It was fun to listen to, despite what was occurring onscreen I guess.Extras:
Dowse and Nanjiani reunite for a commentary track that is light on information and more on entertainment. This is fine, but it's not terribly entertaining. The requisite topics of intent in a scene or breakdown of same are included, as are raves on a particular actor or moment, but there are many gaps of silence, and more than a couple of times they seem to bemoan not having Bautista in the room to join them. It's an average track that lacks insight. Next are five deleted scenes (4:35) with optional commentary from both, but the scenes are quiet obviously superfluous. A gag reel (3:01) is a little more funny as is an alternate line reel (5:14) which shows the actors break a little bit at times. The requisite promotion for the Georgia Film Works (3:01) is included, as is a trailer (1:57) and stills gallery, along with a standard definition disc.Final Thoughts:
The premise of Stuber, given the names of those involved, was interesting, despite a trite concept. Once realized, the cast generally does not really develop much out of it, or make it their own. Part of the blame lies with them, the larger part is with a story that does not seem to pick a direction and occupies a space where little is achieved or rewarded from it. Technically it looks and sounds great, and the extras are humdrum, which is the big tell. If you are a fan of either star it could be worth your time, but you are not going to laugh as much as you would expect, and that is disappointing.