Reviewed by Colin Jacobson

Title: Get Carter: Special Edition (2000)
Studio Line: Warner Bros. - The truth hurts.

It's not his turf. But it is his war. Los Vegas muscle and glitz meets dot-com, triple-latte Seattle, as a Vegas mob enforcer prowls that Northwest city to smoke out his brother's killer…

Director: Stephen T. Kay
Cast: Sylvester Stallone, Miranda Richardson, Rachael Leigh Cook, Alan Cumming, Mickey Rourke, Michael Caine, Rhona Mitra, Gretchen Mol, John C. McGinley
Box Office: Budget: $40 million. Opening Weekend: $6.637 million. Gross: $14.967 million.
DVD: Widescreen 2.35:1/16x9; audio English Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1; subtitles English, French; closed-captioned; single sided - single layered; 28 chapters; rated R; 103 min.; $19.98; street date 2/13/01.
Supplements: Audio Commentary with Director Stephen Kay; Deleted Scenes; Theatrical Trailers; Cast and Crew Filmographies.
Purchase: DVD | Music soundtrack - Various Artists

Picture/Sound/Extras: A/A-/B-

After he spent much of the Eighties as one of the world’s biggest box office draws, the Nineties have not been kind to Sylvester Stallone. He started the decade with Rocky V, the last - to date - and least financially successful entry in that series, and things didn’t get much better from there. After a couple of failed comedies - 1991’s Oscar and 1992’s Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot - Stallone experienced a modest hit with 1993’s Cliffhanger. Following that, however, it was back to flops, with a succession of bombs.

In 1997, Stallone tried to re-invent himself. More precisely, he attempted to re-discover the actor who initially became popular in 1976 with Rocky. In Copland, he doughified his usual rock-hard form and played a simple small-town police office, but it didn’t work; this effort failed to endear Stallone with the critical elite and didn’t alter his career trajectory.

Over the last few years, Stallone really hasn’t done much. He provided a voice in 1998’s animated hit Antz, but other than that, he hadn’t starred in another movie since 1997. 2000’s Get Carter marked his return to the screen. Too bad there’s nothing new to be found in this dreary and unexciting flick.

Get Carter remakes the 1971 Michael Caine movie of the same name but it tries desperately to provide some “new millennium” edge to the proceedings. Stallone plays Jack Carter, an enforcer for a Las Vegas mob boss. Basically this is a higher-rent version of the thug Rocky was in the early parts of that film; Carter beats up deadbeats. Early in the flick, Carter’s estranged brother dies and he heads to Seattle for the funeral. While there, he discovers that his brother expired under suspicious circumstances and he proceeds to investigate. Presumed excitement and thrills follow.

Unfortunately, any fun or drama remains “presumed”, because this limp effort fails to take advantage of any potentially compelling material. It doesn’t help that the story is insanely tired, but the film is further harmed by the fact it can’t decide if it wants to be a straight-out action piece or a sensitive character drama. Much time is spent with participants who reconsider their lives and relationships, but this is mixed in with car chases and Carter’s threats to take things “to another level” when foes fail to respond appropriately.

I have no problem with movies that blend various genres, and action films don’t have to stay within their “boxes” to succeed. However, they need to offer more than what we find in GC, as this piece is completely without inspiration. Director Stephen Kay tries to spice up the action with a myriad of music video techniques; indeed, he tries much too hard. All of the elaborate edits and camerawork add up to nothing more than a potential headache; it’s a lot of flash with no substance.

And that’s why Get Carter is a dud. It’s a character drama with dull, flat characters, and it’s an action film with ordinary, predictable action. The movie wastes a good cast - including Caine, Alan Cumming, and Miranda Richardson - and never threatened to involve me. If Sylvester Stallone wants to return to box office glory, he’ll need to find something more compelling than this clunker.

The DVD:

Get Carter appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this single-sided, single-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. The movie looked absolutely terrific as presented on this DVD; I saw almost no concerns whatsoever to mar the spectacular visuals.

Except when intentionally altered for effect, sharpness appeared immaculate throughout the movie. At no time did I detect any signs of unintended softness or fuzziness, as the film consistently seemed crisp and detailed. Moiré effects and jagged edges were similarly non-existent. In regard to print flaws, I detected a couple of specks of grit, but that was all; no more significant defects like scratches, hairs, grain, tears, or blotches marred the presentation, though there were some flaws created by the filmmakers for effect.

Colors always looked wonderfully bright and vivid. To fit the stylized form of photography, GC often featured somewhat exaggerated tones, and the DVD replicated them nicely; hues were very solid and never showed signs of bleeding, noise, or other flaws. Black levels seemed deep and rich, and shadow detail was appropriately heavy but not excessively thick. All in all, Get Carter provided a tremendously strong visual experience.

The film’s Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack also worked very well. The soundfield offered an immersive and active experience that added a lot of spark to the production. The front channels presented a broad presence that swirled with sound; the score was the main recipient of the activity, but I also heard a nice mix of effects that blended together well and moved accurately around the soundstage. The surrounds kicked in positive reinforcement of the effects as well, and they really boosted the musical presentation; the film’s songs were a serious force in the track.

Audio quality appeared terrific. Dialogue always sounded crisp and natural with no edginess or problems related to intelligibility. Effects were clean and realistic and showed no signs of distortion; they seemed well-defined and clear. The music came across as bright and vivid, and also displayed very strong low end; GC boasted some excellent bass through much of the film. Ultimately, the movie offered a fine auditory experience.

Get Carter offers a few supplemental features, beginning with an audio commentary from director Stephen Kay. This screen-specific affair provides a consistently listenable but unspectacular experience. The commentary suffers from a few too many empty spaces, but Kay speaks throughout most of the period, and he usually mentions fairly interesting information. He concentrates on technical details of making the film - including locations and the ways in which the material was manipulated - and he also talks about alterations made to the story along the way. At times Kay seems rather full of himself - he has this kind of movie hotshot attitude that comes through during the commentary - but I nonetheless thought the track was acceptably positive.

In addition, we find seven “Deleted Scenes”. These are presented as one running piece with no chapter stops, though each new scene is introduced with a title card. In all, the segments run for a total of eight minutes. The snippets focus on character material, but they don’t add anything to the experience. Nonetheless, it’s always fun to see the clips that didn’t make the cut.

Lastly, the DVD includes a “Cast and Crew” section. This area provides filmographies for actors Stallone, Miranda Richardson, Rachel Leigh Cook, Michael Caine, Mickey Rourke, and Alan Cumming, plus director Kay and screenwriter David McKenna; no biographical detail appear. The package also provides trailers for both this movie and the 1971 version of GC.

Although I never saw that now-30-year-old flick, I have to believe it must be superior to the remake. A muddled, dull affair, the 2000 version of Get Carter left me cold from start to finish as it provided no excitement, tension, or drama. The DVD offers terrific picture and sound plus a smattering of supplements. It’s a nice release - especially considering the low list price of only $19.98 - but the film’s such a dud that I cannot recommend it.

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