MPI // 2011 // 91 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // July 27th, 2012
The only way out is to give in.
Claustrophobics need not apply.
Stephen Dorff (Immortals) stars as a man named Jeremy, who wakes up in a glass box. He doesn't know why or how he got there. He shares a CB radio with a man in a similar position on the other end. Jeremy eventually realizes the nature of his predicament and what his captors want of him -- and there is no way he going to give them what they want.
What ensues is the psychological mind-F of the century.
I'm going to tell you right now: this review is going to be brief. The success of Brake rests on the notion you know nothing about it going in. The film is designed to be a harrowing journey the viewer experiences in real time, as we and Jeremy confront numerous revelations at the same time. Everyone is literally in the dark. So I'll just speak in vagaries and nip around the outside of the plot. Kind of like a Dice-K mound appearance. It's not going to be easy.
What I can tell you is Dorff turns in a killer performance...and he does all of it crammed inside a glass box. The conceit is the bad guys are trying to get something out of these two men and they employ multiple -- sometimes sadistic -- methods to achieve it. Brake isn't torture porn, but there are more than a few moments where the confined desperation is just as unnerving.
What I found particularly impressive was director Gabe Torres's ability to generate the suspense and tension you would find in a traditional action film from a static setting. Big things happen on the outside and, while we never get our eyeballs on the mayhem, it nevertheless feels like we do. That's a testament to Dorff's acting and to Torres's skill in squeezing as much juice from his self-imposed set limitations as he can.
And it works. It works exceedingly well. Really, my only disappointment is in the ending, which I'm sure will polarize many viewers. I won't say anymore, but I found it contrived and clunky enough to sour my overall take on a film that's on the whole pretty awesome.
That's it. I'm done. You'll thank me later.
Brake is given a nice Blu-ray release by MPI, starting with a striking 1.78:1/1080p HD transfer that serves the tight quarters filming quite well. With everything being so intimate, the small details matter more and this treatment delivers. The DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track shifts from dialogue-driven to all-Hell-breaks-loose with verve, offering up a cool and unique score from composer Brian Tyler (Bubba Ho-Tep). Extras include a director's commentary, a music video, and nice making-of featurette.
Whatever you think of the denouement, I'm pretty sure you've never seen
anything like Brake. Track it down.
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Scales of Justice
* 1.78:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 91 Minutes
Release Year: 2011
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* Music Video