Hasn't Matt Damon aged? What? It's not Matt Damon. It's who? John Malkovich? But it is Tom Ripley, isn't it, you know, as in The Talented Mr. Ripley? Okay, so now that's sorted, “Tell us about the film,” you cry. Well, okay.
It has been some time since Tom whacked Dickie on the head with that oar and his scheming, conniving, manipulative, yet charismatic, personality has aged, but not mellowed. He is now an art dealer/conman/scam merchant, and a good one at that. He'll sell any piece of art, real or fake, so long as the dollars are right. He'd probably rip off his own grandmother if he thought he could get away with it. His ability to scam (and kill) has made him a very rich man, living with his wife in a lovely Italian villa.
When Reeves (Ray Winstone), an old 'friend', rocks up at his door wanting to hire Tom as a hit man, Ripley turns him down, but tells Reeves he has someone in mind who, though a 'hit' virgin, has what it takes and is in need of the cash. This 'virgin' is a local picture framer Ripley overheard making less than flattering remarks about him at a party. Jonathan Trevanny (Dougray Scott) is no hit man, yet, but he is a very sick man with a wife and child that will need financial support after he is gone.
Ripley recommends Trevanny to Reeves, and Reeves approaches him but of course gets turned down. He persists however, eventually convincing Trevanny that killing a man is easier than it sounds. He agrees to go to Berlin to make the hit and, while things do go pretty much as expected, complications arise when the hit's 'colleagues' decide to track down his killer. Reeves convinces Trevanny that to protect himself he must also take out this new threat, but that proves to be much more difficult. Tom Ripley, for reasons best known to himself, gets himself involved in the hits, only to incite the mob into wanting the both of them dead.
The Ripley books by Patricia Highsmith have provided us with a great film in The Talented Mr. Ripley and a lesser great film in Ripley's Game. Malkovich is very convincing as Ripley in his cold, almost sublime portrayal as the charismatic psychopath. The story is easy enough to follow, the locales are almost romantic, but the action scenes are quite graphic. The motivations that drive the main characters are intriguing and almost tragic.
There is essentially no need to have seen Talented... to enjoy this film, as they are quite distinct. The main character, Tom Ripley, may be the link, but the story would probably have worked just as well had the main character been one we had not previously met.
There is little to fault in this video transfer. The aspect ratio of 1.78:1 is 16:9 enhanced (slightly reduced from the original) and generally looks a treat. It is a sharp looking transfer with a few ever-so-slightly fuzzy shots that will not bother any bar the fussiest.
Colours are generally good, solid and accurate. Black levels are fine and there are no concerns over shadow detail. There is some very mild edge enhancement more evident towards the end of the film, and while there is the mildest evidence of grain, aliasing and the odd film artefact or two, there is essentially nothing noteworthy. Even the layer change slips by almost undetected at 65:24.
Although limited for choice (one audio track – English Dolby Digital 5.1), the audio passes muster quite easily. It is a straightforward effort with very little use of surround channels, although they are utilised a great deal of the time for some very subtle ambience. Most audio action is placed along the front channels with dialogue mostly front and centre. There are a few scenes where the bass sounds make themselves felt, but mostly the subwoofer remains unused.
Dialogue is loud, clear and well synchronised. There are no dropouts, hiss or other anomalies. The score is by Ennio Morricone and is well suited to the film. This is no window-rattler of an audio track, but it has been well thought out and provides a good feel for the film.