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Kenneth Branagh
Michael Caine, Jude Law
Writing Credits:
Harold Pinter

On his sprawling country estate, an aging writer matches wits with the struggling actor who has stolen his wife's heart.

Box Office:
Opening Weekend:
$46,265 on 9 screens.
Domestic Gross:

Rated R

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
English Dolby TrueHD 5.1
Spanish Dolby 5.1
Portuguese Dolby 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 89 min.
Price: $19.99
Release Date: 3/11/2008

• Audio Commentary with Director Kenneth Branagh and Actor Michael Caine
• Audio Commentary with Actor Jude Law
• “A Game of Cat and Mouse: Behind the Scenes of Sleuth” Featurette
• “Inspector Black: Make-Up Secrets Revealed” Featurette
• Previews


-LG OLED65C6P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
-Marantz SR7010 9.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD AV Surround Receiver
-Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


Sleuth [Blu-Ray] (2007)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (October 31, 2017)

1972’s Sleuth already offered a thriller with a twist due to its severely restricted cast. For the 2007 remake, that original conceit continues but with a new wrinkle: one of the actors from the prior flick shows up again but in a different part.

In Sleuth, we meet Andrew Wyke (Michael Caine), an eccentric mystery novelist. The soon-to-be-divorced author lives alone on his palatial estate, and one day he invites Milo Tindle (Jude Law) to visit him. This occurs because Milo plans to marry Andrew’s almost-ex Maggie, and Andrew wants to see if the young man merits his approval.

As it happens, Andrew possesses an ulterior motive or twelve. After the initial “getting to know you” process, Andrew reveals that he needs money, so he proposes a deal.

If Milo will steal some jewelry Andrew originally gave to Maggie, he can keep the valuable trinket while Andrew collects the insurance. This will allow Milo the cash-strapped out-of-work actor to keep Maggie in her usual lavish lifestyle while it also gives Andrew the means to maintain his mistress.

However, we soon see that Andrew entertains other thoughts as well, for he feels bitter that Milo “stole” Maggie. And that’s where I’ll stop my plot synopsis, for Sleuth takes so many twists and turns that it wouldn’t be fair to reveal any more of them.

When confronted with remakes, you can only avoid comparisons if you never saw the original – or if you saw it so long ago you forgot it. For me, neither contingency applied in terms of Sleuth.

I did see the 1972 original, and I did so close enough to my screening of the 2007 version that it remained active in my mind. I can’t say that I loved the 1972 flick, but I enjoyed it and thought it was a good effort.

Because of that, I felt the 2007 Sleuth had to prove itself as a true standalone effort. Unfortunately, it never quite manages to become its own film.

Oh, it differs from the original, so it doesn’t provide a slavish reworking of its predecessor. However, I don’t think the changes do anything to improve on the prior model, and I actively dislike some of them.

For instance, this version comes with a lot of profanity. Curse words don’t offend me in the least, but they feel gratuitous and out of place here.

The casting comes across as problematic. That’s no slight on Law and Caine, of course, as both are excellent performers.

However, I don’t know if they fit together well. There’s just not a lot of contrast between the two, as they kind of feel like the same guy only separated by a generation. In the 1972 film, Caine and Laurence Olivier offered a stark contrast, but Alfie 1960s and Alfie 2000s don’t create much tension.

I don’t know if the Dueling Alfies was intentional in any way, and the participants claim that the Sleuth line “what’s it all about?” wasn’t a knowing nod to that character. However, it is rather gimmicky to put Caine in the remake since he worked in the original.

Of course, he plays a different role here, but there’s not much real reason to place him in the 2007 version. Perhaps Caine would have been the producers’ choice even without his connection to the old flick, but I feel like he’s here mostly as stunt casting.

All of this doesn’t mean that the 2007 Sleuth fails to entertain. It’s still a clever story and it mostly keeps our attention across its brief running time.

However, it just doesn’t live up to expectations or the standards set by the original flick. It’s just not as involving or potent as its predecessor, so it fails to live up to its legacy.

The Disc Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B-/ Bonus B

Sleuth appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The film came with a solid transfer.

Sharpness worked fine. A few shots seemed a smidgen soft, but those were in the minority, so the flick usually came across as accurate and well-defined.

I witnessed no shimmering or jaggies, and the image lacked edge haloes. Source flaws remained absent, as the flick came free from defects.

Sleuth came with a very subdued palette. Icy blues dominated, and a few other earthy tones made up the majority of the other colors, though some brighter lighting appeared during some shots. The hues were fine within the design constraints of the film.

Blacks were dense and dark, while shadows demonstrated positive delineation. The image satisfied.

Given the movie’s limited cast and restricted setting, I didn’t expect fireworks from the film’s Dolby TrueHD 5.1 soundfield. Indeed, the film provided mild atmosphere at best.

Music formed the majority of the material from places other than the front center, though some ambient information popped up on the sides and in the rears. These instances were minor at best, so don’t anticipate much action on display here.

Audio quality was quite good, at least. Music showed nice range and vivacity, as the score was lively and full.

Effects were also accurate and clear. They didn’t often show much ambition, of course, but they were good representations of the material and showed good life.

Speech sounded concise and natural, with no edginess or other issues. The audio of Sleuth got a “B-“ due to its limited soundfield, but the sound was perfectly acceptable for this story.

How did the Blu-ray compare to the DVD version? Audio showed a little more range, though the limited nature of the soundfield held back improvements. On the other hand, visuals showed a clear upgrade, as the Blu-ray boasted superior definition and colors.

The Blu-ray duplicates the DVD’s extras, and the prime attraction comes from two separate audio commentaries. The first includes director Kenneth Branagh and actor Michael Caine. Both sit together for this running, screen-specific look at sets and production design, cinematography, comparisons with the original flick, script and story, performances and rehearsal, music, and a few other production topics.

While not a great conversation, the commentary proves reasonably enjoyable. The track sags at times and suffers from a bit too much happy talk.

However, we get some nice insights into the film, and I especially like Caine’s notes about the original movie. This is a moderately above average piece.

For the second commentary, we get actor Jude Law all on his own. He offers another running, screen-specific discussion of about his approach to the character, working with the others, performance notes and various production issues.

Inevitably, Law repeats some material from the first commentary. He also falls silent a little more than I’d like, though not to a significant degree.

Nonetheless, Law manages to hold his own during his chat. He gives us some interesting facts about his work, especially when he gets into his mid-film transformation.

In particular, I like his remarks about makeup, costumes and other gimmicks. Law proves engaging and likable in this generally useful commentary.

Two featurettes follow. A Game of Cat and Mouse: Behind the Scenes of Sleuth lasts 15 minutes and provides remarks from Branagh, Law, Caine, and screenwriter Harold Pinter. After two commentaries, we’ve already learned a lot about Sleuth, and some of that information repeats here. Nonetheless, we get a few new notes, and the footage from the set helps.

I especially like the rehearsal images and some other glimpses behind the scenes. This is a moderately fluffy but generally interesting show.

Next comes the two-minute, 34-second Inspector Black: Make-Up Secrets Revealed. It includes remarks from makeup artist Eileen Kastner-Delago, as she tells us about all the components used to create the Black character.

Despite its brevity, it provides a decent overview of the techniques. It helps that Kastner-Delago is super-gorgeous – she can talk about whatever she wants and I’ll listen!

The disc opens with an ad for Steep. The trailers area adds promos for The Jane Austen Book Club, Saawariya, Across the Universe, We Own the Night, 30 Days of Night, Closer and The Holiday. No trailer for Sleuth shows up here.

On its own, I think the 2007 Sleuth has its moments, but it can’t quite emerge from the shadow of the original film. That one proves much more entertaining and makes it tough for the remake to stand for itself. The Blu-ray provides very good picture and decent audio along with a few reasonably interesting extras. This is an acceptable release for a moderately enjoyable movie.

To rate this film, visit the original review of SLEUTH

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