Back Comments (2) Share:
Facebook Button
The gang, gangster and mobster flicks have been done before, and done very well. The thing is, though, they represent some serious potential cash at the box-office by virtue of the fact that young, male movie-goers will flock to see a little testosterone flaunted and part with a piece of their largely disposable income. And when the film comes packaged with the likes of Dennis Hopper, John Malkovich and, king of testosterone himself, Vin Diesel, then there’s really no choice but to check it out. Strangely there was little fanfare about the film’s release in cinemas, probably due largely to the rather average reviews from the US theatrical run. But now we’ve got hold of it on DVD we can check out what all the fuss (or lack thereof) was about.

Knockaround Guys

The term ‘Knockaround Guys’ refers to the men who are living in their infamous fathers’ shadows, constantly being judged merely through blood lines than through integrity and worth. One such man is Matty Demaret (Barry Pepper, riding on the wave of The Green Mile, Saving Private Ryan and The 25th Hour, son of the legendary criminal and hard man Benny Demaret (Dennis Hopper), nicknamed chains probably for a very good reason.

Matty’s plight is that he is constantly knocked back from meaningful employment because all the employers recognize the family name. His uncle (played by John Malkovich, who gives us his worst accent since Rounder) doesn’t think he can cut it in the hard-nosed criminal business, which we learn in a neat little flashback, but soon Matty wants in on the action just because he’s pretty much got nothing else to do. A reluctant Benny assigns an important job to his son, with the audience knowing full well that nothing will go according to plan.

Matty brings with him a band of loyal friends, who all seem to be in the same situation due their fathers’ chose career paths or just plain criminals from the outset. There’s Taylor (Vin Diesel), Chris (Andrew Davoli) and drug addict Marbles (Seth Green), who all have some connection to Matty and get roped into helping him out when the master plan runs into more than a few hiccups.

The plot itself is rather simple; Matty must get a bag of cash and deliver it to his father. Not surprisingly things screw up thanks to Marbles and a local sheriff during his pit stop for aeroplane fuel. The snowball then begins, with everyone from teenage kids to airline staff becoming involved.

Knockaround Guys

The thing is we don’t really care all that much about the characters, save for Matty because he just seems like a screw up underneath his confident yet pensive exterior. Diesel’s Taylor is just a meat-head, and his one-sided fist fight with a supposedly tough local is surprisingly tough to watch, while Davoli isn’t given much to do with Chris except have a few doubts about getting mixed up in the action. Seth Green is used as the comic vehicle much like his recent turn in The Italian Job but with this kind of film the jokes just seem forced and out of place.

The film plods along and gives us nothing we haven’t seen before, and definitely nothing we didn’t see coming from a mile off. Sure, there’s enough star power to keep us interested for a while, but when we couldn’t really care about the fate of the characters (save for maybe the arrogant local cop) then there’s really nothing for this film to hang its hat on. Definitely a disappointing return for what looks like a decent line-up of characters on the surface.

In a departure from the usual quality visuals from the folks at Roadshow, this transfer doesn’t quite live up to expectations. The disc is thrown some pretty tough locations to try and render in sharp colour and detail, yet one can’t help but think this is a little under par for Australia’s most impressive distributor when it comes to getting the look right.

The 2.35:1 transfer is marred by aliasing dotted throughout the film, some of which gets a little distracting as we are directed to the faults in the vision rather than the action on screen. Colours are probably deliberately muted yet don’t seem to have the sharpness necessary to make this one stand out. The lighting in a few scenes probably doesn’t help the sharpness all that much, so the transfer suffers as a result.

It’s not a bad transfer by any means, but when you’ve been groomed on near perfection you can’t help but feel a little let down with this one.

Knockaround Guys

The disc comes with a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack (despite some online stores claiming the disc has DTS), one that makes use of what’s on offer despite there being not all that much to play with. There are enough surround effects bouncing around the rears to have you looking around the room (check out the “play shooting” scene), while the subwoofer gets a little bit of a workout now and then.

The score, composed by Requiem For A Dream’s Clint Mansell is not intrusive but really backs up the action on screen very well. I likened it to the brilliant score from The 25th Hour on first listen and, while not in the same league as the soundtrack from that film, the best part about Mansell’s composition is the brooding undertones it puts out, totally relevant to the mobster genre.

A few extras have been thrown in to give the disc some worth, the first being an audio commentary with writer/director Brian Koppelman and David Levian. These guys are a treat to listen to, and it actually made me respect the film a little more merely because they explained it better in this commentary than they did with the visuals and dialogue on the film. Their inspiration is disclosed among a gamut of other subjects, making this track one of the better commentaries of recent times.

The next feature is a deleted & extended scenes section, with four scenes included here; No Problem On The Green, The Ballers, Working Hard For The Money and Cereal Stash. All can be viewed with or without commentary from the filmmakers, and all are of high quality. Most were cut due to time constraints, and again the commentary gives us a great insight into the motivations behind their excision.

Knockaround Guys

The only other extra included is the original theatrical trailer, which uses the most annoying voiceover trailer guy out of the handful of guys doing the job over in Hollywood. Nevertheless, the trailer gives a good snapshot of the film and would’ve enticed me to go along to the cinema had I actually seen it before a feature anywhere.

The film may be about more about loyalty and character than your usual mob drama, but it can’t go past the fact there’s nothing remarkable about any of it. The star-studded cast try their best but come up short mainly because we couldn’t really care about any of them. The video transfer is marred by a few visual nasties, the soundtrack is boosted by a great score and the extras, while slim, really add value to the package. Not the best film but the disc is still above average.