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  • Widescreen 1.85:1
  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • None
  • Theatrical trailer
In the Shadows
Universal/Universal . R4 . COLOR . 105 mins . MA15+ . PAL


What starts out kinda believable suddenly leaps so far out of a building into the clouds we are left dumbfounded. At least I was.

Here goes...

Eric (Matthew Modine) is a mob bodyguard who kills a dude but chokes when it comes to killing an innocent witness. And that lands him in the pen for seven to ten. Meanwhile, his old friend Jimmy, working with the mob from birth, decides to cut himself in on some action and directs a purchase of primo drugs and medicine from this crack smoking dealer dude (Cube Gooding Jr.).

However, Jimmy takes the medicine and disappears back to his regular job... stuntman. Here he gets cocky and is killed on a church-blowing-up-gag, leaving a pissed off drug dealer who wants his money and medicine back. Here comes Eric, straight outta prison and back to work for the mob. He’s given the job of erasing the stunt co-ordinator (James Caan) because ‘Jimmy didn’t deserve that kinda death’ (?!) and it musta been his fault. Now Eric does some spying and gets next to the stunt guy’s daughter (Joey Lauren Adams). However, he is soon taken into the fold and within minutes, is doing high-profile stunts for movies! then he learns some interesting facts and suddenly his old life isn’t as good as his new one...

I tried my damnedest to suspend my disbelief here, but come ON! A mob guy who works stunts? A mob godfather who decides the stunt co-ordinator should be rubbed out? A hot daughter who happens to conveniently be single at the time Eric needs an ‘in’? And Eric, played by a grim Modine, couldn’t possibly have anything even remotely attractive about him. He’s in Florida and he’s wearing black everywhere like some sort of vulture or something. Plus, his personality is set solidly somewhere between Library Book and Apple Tree.

This is just spangle, folks, plain and simple. Trying to put a new spin on the wrung-dry gangster theme, or even just trying to pep it up a bit with some cars blowing up and stuff, the thing is itself a hack job. Not to mention the goody-goody ending. Cheesus.


Video-wise, this is mostly alright, although it spends a lot of time in the dark and while blacks are true, the shadow detail fluctuates between shithouse and impenetrable. Otherwise, the cinematography is quite nice with some pretty cool stunts thrown in for sweetness, and the cinema aspect of 1.85:1 has been preserved (although there’s no 16:9 enhancement).

Audio quality is fine as well, with some nice use of the surrounds in the explosions and gunfights parts. The Dolby Digital 5.1 is appreciated and does help give this film at least a little cred. Modine’s dialogue is pretty hammy, but then everyone’s doing it, so why not? With gems like: ‘We dance in the shadows of death every time we walk on the set...’ among others, this is pretty crappy and I’m actually kinda surprised they managed to get the cast they did. Still, in looking over that cast, they’ve all been guilty of diving into the B-grade pool at times. Music by Adam Gorgoni is fine and suitable to the piece, but doesn’t leap out as anything too memorable.

As for extras, we are entitled to a trailer here and thankfully, that’s all. It runs for 2:48, gives the whole film away and is actually a more compact way of viewing the whole thing, and is in the same ratio of 1.85:1 without enhancement.

Overall, this is really just fodder for anyone who gets to the video store too late on a Saturday night when the good stuff has been picked over and this is all that’s left sitting miserably next to Alien Hunter.

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  •   And I quote...
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    - Jules Faber
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Nintaus DVD-N9901
    • TV:
          Sony 51cm
    • Receiver:
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    • Surrounds:
          No Name
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard Optical
    • Video Cables:
          Standard Component RCA
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