Connected (UK - DVD R2)
If Marcus got a call like this he'd hang up. Mobiles don't make life this cool...
With a big trend of the west remaking many of the east’s big titles, the east get their own back by remaking the 2004 sort of hit Cellular (you know that cell phones can save lives movie with Kim Basinger and Chris Evans).
In this remake (co-written and directed by Benny Chan) Grace Wong (Barbara Hsu) is abducted and held hostage in an old house. Using odd bits and bobs and the house's loose wiring, Grace constructs a makeshift telephone and manages to contact Bob (Louis Koo) and after convincing him not to hang up, the duo go about trying to save Grace and protect her daughter from a potential kidnapping.
As with Cellular, this whole concept feels just a teensy bit too modern for its own good. Using the mobile phone as the ultimate accessory to save lives via the satnav features, texts and constant access, just gets to the point of insanity, especially when chunks of story start dedicating time to finding a new charger, accidently dropping the phone or using a ring tone to track down someone you’re trying to shoot.
On top of that, the story never really has time to get you all that involved with the proceedings. From the moment Bob believes Grace, we’re off and running. Break neck pacing, against the clock deadlines and of course the on-going question of how long the plot is going to keep us believing that Bob, our man at the end of the phone to a stranger is going to keep this up? Within ten minutes of first talking to Grace, Bob is off on a madcap chase through the city streets to save her daughter. All of this in his little green Ford Ka, which while doing stuff that’s fun to watch is just a little too over the top to swallow with ease and then when he’s off stealing another car and holding up a phone shop at gunpoint for a charger, you have to start questioning the absurd nature of story and that’s not even the most manic the whole affair gets.
I only saw Cellular once I think and if I remember rightly Chris Evans was in his first wave of funny guy in an action movie phase so those elements from the original are just about as goofy here. However I do remember the Basinger stuff being a little more intense. The scenes in Connected just don’t come off that way. They have their fair share of wrongful deaths and a real sense that Grace is in danger but I really didn’t feel the tension in the dramatic elements as much as I probably should have. That said, as an overall movie, Connected was a hell of a lot more fun than I remember Cellular being, so it's swings and roundabouts I guess.
Really your enjoyment with Connected is going to come down to how cool a device you think a mobile phone can be in a movie and how effective you think a telephone conversation can be as a dramatic device. I for one find them hard to get involved with unless it’s Al Pacino on one end of the line or at least someone with a decent level of intensity to their acting. Connected just highlights the flaccid nature of film phone conversations and the more intense the scene got the more the spotlight is placed on how goofy this stuff can get and how thin the over used mobile phone element to the story was spread.
Opening with a distinctly soft set of landscape shots, the transfer has a turn for the better when the actors turn up, offering a much warmer, detailed image (even if the overall effect is still lacking a certain sharpness).
Generally the lighting is bright and fresh and gives the transfer a nice daytime glow and because of that, small textures and details fare pretty well for a standard definition release. Water elements such as tears and sweat all look pretty great and make faces look more detailed than they do without them but really this is a fairly standard transfer that benefits from warm lighting and relatively bold colours.
The opening scenes are dialogue heavy and sit comfortably in the front speakers but keeping with the telephone themes, there’s a fairly effective moment with a series of ring tones bouncing around the speakers, letting you know this isn't just an all frontal affair.
Odd pieces of score and car chase sounds add a few extra elements to the Dolby Digital 5.1 track and there’s the odd spike in bass levels that adds some weight but once again these are few and far between and really only offer a short break from the rather straight forward approach to the track.
The disc one special features are the ‘Alternate, Extended and Deleted Scenes’, which run for a whopping forty two minutes and come in a variety of different qualities. There’s also a selection of ‘Also Available’ titles with box art images and trailers.
Disc two gets more into the nitty gritty and offers up an Interview Gallery with Benny Chan (20:54), Nick Cheung (04:40), Louis Koo (10:38) and Barbara Hsu (09:29). There’s the Making of (20:14) which honestly is more of the same stuff from the interviews intercut with clips from the movie.
Lastly there's some behind the scenes selections that clock in at a massive two hours and forty six minutes, including one that offers up a whole hour and ten minutes worth of footage focusing on the car stunts. There's a lot of on-set footage but with no real narration or description it’s a little long and aimless to remain enjoyable.
While Connected was a well-paced, often stupidly over the top action thriller about how useful phones are in a sticky situation, there’s little here to paint it as a good movie. Yeah, it’s fun, and some of the stunt work is genius but really it’s well-trodden in ground for a thriller and the fresh cell phone spin felt forced in 2004, so six years later (or four as this movie was actually released in 2008 in Hong Kong) it just feels even more ridiculous. I mean come on, what’s next? A sequel that saves the days using apps?
Review by Marcus Doidge
Suitable only for persons of 15 years and over
Release Date: 20th September 2010
Disc Type: Single side, dual layer
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 Chinese, Dolby 2.0 Stereo Chinese, Dolby Digital 5.1 English
Extras: Deleted, Extended, Alternate Scenes, Kaing of, Interview Galley, Behind The Scenes
Easter Egg: No
Director: Benny Chan
Cast: Barbara Hsu, Louis Koo
Genre: Action, Crime, Drama and Thriller
Length: 106 minutes
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