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December 27, 2011

Movie Review: Catch .44 (2011, Blu-ray)

After analyzing the talented cast assembled for Aaron Harvey's Catch .44, I became really excited to watch this unorthodox crime-thriller. First off, you have action icon Bruce Willis (The Diehard Trilogy), Forest Whitaker (Last King of Scotland, Fast Times at Ridgemont High), character actor extraordinaire Brad Dourif (Child's Play, One Who Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest) and the smoking hot, Malin Akerman (Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle) as the lead. I don't know much about writer/director Aaron Harvey but boy he sure does have some nice talent for an independent production. Does this translate to a great film?

Buy Catch .44 on Blu-ray, DVD or Instant Video

Three young women, led by Tes (Malin Akerman), attempt to do a daring job for their boss, Mel (Bruce Willis). It seemed like easy pickings until all hell breaks loose at a cafe where the bulk of our story unfolds. How the girls got to the cafe is the basic premise of Catch .44, so don't expect a routine narrative. The movie starts out interesting enough with a sudden burst of violence that erupts in the cafe. After that it just peters off into a flaccid Tarantino-esque vehicle with film referencing and ridiculous banter that don't normally occur normal pre-robbery diner conversation.

The acting is surprisingly bland by Whitaker and Willis -- as is their dialogue. Honestly, the four-inch soul-patch that "Mel" swings from his under-lip is much more interesting than what the actors offer. Another thing that struck me as odd was Whitaker's sub-par "Tony Montana" impression.  This is easily one of the more bizarre turns in the film. The writing is definitely partially to blame but we can't let these normally steady actors off the hook. I did like seeing Shea Wigham (Boardwalk Empire) as the grubby, gun-toting cook and Brad Dourif. Don't blink though when Brad gets on screen, because he's onscreen very briefly-- though he's one of the top billed actors.

Anchor Bay has included an audio commentary with director/writer Aaron Harvey, who delivers a solid track that may bring more enjoyment to viewers than the film itself. One area of praise goes to Anchor Bay's effort on the Blu-ray transfer, which looks quite good and exhibited no issues with audio that I noticed.

To sum the viewing experience of Catch .44, I can't say it's going to impress anyone who’s had steady diet of this kind of crime film, mainly because of it's derivative nature. Folks not so versed on Tarantino, Guy Ritchie or even Danny Boyle's earlier work may find some redeeming value in the feature, but to me, it's something I've seen done many times over the past twenty years. Did I mention I liked Willis’ soul patch?

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