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An American safecracker named Zed (Eric Stoltz) is summoned to Paris by his childhood buddy, Eric (Jean-Hugues Anglade). Eric has the perfect, no fail robbery plan for Zed. We go in, we get what we want, we come out. But in life nothing's perfect.

 Killing Zoe
Produced by Laurence Bender (with a bit of Quentin Tarantino's name thrown in) Killing Zoe originally arrived very much riding the coattails of the 90s Tarantino explosion. Eric Stolz in the lead and a laid back, dialogue driven heist tale this, on paper at least slotted into the period's Tarantino fever and received a fair bit of coverage and praise at the time because of it.

I have no idea why but I vividly remember buying the VHS of this after wandering into Blockbuster video, while walking home from a girlfriend's house. I wanted to see it because of the Tarantino hype I, like many, was caught in and my small town cinema never showed it, so VHS it was. I walked home and watched it straight away and that, right there, is where my memory ends. Weird right? I remember the getting of the film like it was a big deal but beyond some cast members, I literally remember nothing of the film.

 Killing Zoe
So this rewatch may as well be a first time out watch. Beyond the basics, I remembered almost nothing even as the plot unravelled. There's a Kemp brother in this? Hey, that's the guy from Betty Blue, man, this is low budget. All these things hit me like I'd never seen Killing Zoe before.

After the rewatch I think, despite some cool dialogue and conversations, Killing Zoe is just a little too laid back for its own good. It's easy to slip into hanging out with these characters but not quite as easy to care about what they're doing. The "biggest job in French history" just isn't all that exciting (and is barely even filmed in France incidentally, it opted for an L.A. shoot instead). I just like the back and forths between Stoltz and those around him really. The film has an exciting title, a bank robbery and a bunch of okay characters but this is very much a low key affair and twenty years on I'm still pretty sure I'll forget most of it again before the next time I watch it.

 Killing Zoe

Video


From the opening credits I was instantly reminded of the quality of the old Polygram videos. Man this looks washy and almost exactly like VHS. Did we really suffer through film's looking this bad?

Leaving the credits, there's no miracle change unfortunately, this still look pretty lousy. Detail is kind of okay in places and edges, while soft are clearly better than they've been before but the colour is so washed out that the reminders of the combo of low budget film-making and 90s VHS days never shake off. The image is just extremely flat, very much single colour toned, depending of what colour is most used in the scene (mostly a peachy colour it seems)and the whole thing is just plain 'off' by modern standards.

 Killing Zoe
Sadly though the badness get worse. Wider shots look positivity terrible with no decent blacks, really washy colours and cutting between characters can vary so wildly in quality it often feels like two films spliced together.

Close ups fair better than the wider shots but none of this is anywhere near what we've come to expect from Blu-ray presentations. The best that can be said is that the image is relatively clean. It's certainly brighter than previous releases but this is me looking for something, anything to see as a positive here but there's just no way around it, Killing Zoe on Blu-ray looks like an upscaled VHS at best.

 Killing Zoe

Audio


The score certainly has some power, even if it's more aggression than precision really. Bass is strong, especially in those open credits, making use of the rear speakers and providing a nice all encompassing, overbearing audio attack.

Dialogue is clean but noticeably low budget in its recording, so there's a raw quality to it. Every little thing is picked up, like the opening of a cigarette packet or the rustling of sheets and the track sounds wider than it probably needs to be, given it a fairly hollow sound at times.

Gunshots are a bit more powerful, raised voices hit home and the score continually bulks out the track. Nothing is particularly show off here in terms of audio but it gets the job done.

Extras


All we get is a 'Still Gallery' and 'Lobby Card Gallery'. Super 'Meh'.

 Killing Zoe

Overall


Killing Zoe is a blast from the Tarantino explosion past, when anything even mildly associated with him was a must watch. It's low key, low budget and simply told and it's got its moments for sure but Killing Zoe is a forgotten micro hit form the 90s for a reason and age hasn't made it shine in any new ways or anything.

The Blu-ray doesn't do anything to try and reinvigorate the film; no extras, a truly dreadful video presentation and a pretty good audio track just does nothing to celebrate the presumably cult favourite somewhere out there in fandom.

** Note: The above images are taken from the Blu-ray release and resized for the page. Full-resolution captures are available by clicking individual images, but due to .jpg compression they are not necessarily representative of the quality of the transfer.


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