Universal // 2011 // 107 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Paul Pritchard (Retired) // June 15th, 2012
Run. Fight. Survive.
A Fun and Sexy Non-Stop Thrill Ride!
When a party held by a notorious arms dealer ends in bloodshed, call girl Catalina "Cat" Rona (Paz Vega, Spanglish) finds herself on the run -- but not before taking possession of security footage detailing the massacre. With the incriminating evidence in hand, Cat's life -- and that of her child -- are at risk from ruthless gangsters, deadly assassins, and a corrupt U.S. senator who will stop at nothing to get the video back.
Cat's only hope lies with a pair of upstart private detectives (Scott Mechlowicz and Alphonso McAuley), who are hired by her desperate father to find his missing daughter.
It's not that Cat Run is a bad film. Far from it. It's simply that it rarely engages the audience and only sporadically entertains. As an action-comedy, it is perfectly serviceable, containing any number of explosive action sequences, yet for all the polish applied to the visuals, there was not one moment I actually cared about any of the characters.
The most striking problem with the film is that the character of Cat, around whom the entire plot revolves, is a complete dud. The lack of depth afforded to the role -- not to mention a distinct lack of screen time -- means that Vega is reliant on her good looks to register any kind of interest from the viewer, as she is left to react to, rather than influence, the madness around her.
Screenwriters Nick Ball and John Niven pack their film with quirky characters, including Christopher McDonald's sleazy senator, but only truly hit the target with Helen Bingham (Janet McTeer), an uber-assassin who combines equal parts Mary Poppins and The Terminator. With her extremely polite demeanor and abhorrence of vulgar language, Bingham -- initially at least -- is the very definition of a lady. Yet when information is required which her source is unwilling to disclose, she will go to any lengths necessary. McTeer really is the star of the movie, delivering a performance that exudes class and confidence. Able to convey the film's dark humor better than most, McTeer shows herself to be surprisingly adept when it comes to the action scenes, with a brutal fight against Karel Roden's Daniel Carver standing out.
Scott Mechlowicz and Alphonso McAuley, as fledgling private investigators Anthony and Julian, are tasked with carrying the majority of the picture and do a reasonably good job. McAuley is handed the role of comedy sidekick, which calls for him to goof around for the most part, culminating in his impersonation of a Scotsman that immediately brings to mind a Celtic version of Austin Powers. Mechlowicz is given a more rounded role, as the more thoughtful Anthony. Unfortunately, the creative's behind the picture genuinely seem to assume some kind of investment by the viewer toward the characters which proves to be a massive misjudgment, as is evident by the film's coda that informs us of the fates of the characters.
Actor-turned-director John Stockwell (Blue Crush) adopts an in-your-face style that undoubtedly brings a sense of energy to the production. Sadly, the lack of any subtlety or nuance means that everything is up there on the screen, and the viewers can completely disengage their brains for the 107-minute duration. Visually, there are nods to Guy Ritchie (Snatch), and Tony Scott Man on Fire, which -- depending on your tastes -- is not an entirely unpleasant combination. Shot primarily in Serbia, Cat Run contains some truly spectacular vistas which, visually at least, help it stand apart from the majority of action movies. It's a shame Stockwell lacked the nous to cut down the running time by around 20 minutes, as the film begins to drag significantly around the 80-minute mark. Admittedly, the additional length does afford the film sufficient time to deliver one last big set piece, but by the time this comes about, it's too late to have any positive effect on the viewer.
Cat Run (Blu-ray) sports an excellent 2.35:1 1080p transfer. There is a high level of fine detail crammed into the picture, even during darker scenes (which themselves highlight the exceptional black levels). The image is clean and ultra sharp, and contains vibrant colors. The 5.1 soundtrack also impresses as it delivers crystal-clear dialogue that sits well amongst a dynamic and quite loud mix. The Blu-ray contains a handful of deleted scenes, as well as a 15-minute making-of featurette. This making of is a by-the-numbers affair, where everyone talks about what it was that drew him or her to the project. The most interesting contributions come from director John Stockwell, as he discusses the reasons for shooting in Serbia, as well as the relative freedom he has working on a lower-budget production. Stockwell's musings continue throughout the commentary track that he pops up on. Again, this is by-the-numbers stuff, but contains a few interesting tidbits (such as how an explosion at a zoo didn't go quite to plan) that make it worthwhile for fans of the film.
Ultimately, Cat Run is a little too derivative to earn a full recommendation. It lacks a unique voice, and though it does entertain in bursts, it is overlong and frequently guilty of lacking direction.
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Scales of Justice
* 2.35:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080)
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 107 Minutes
Release Year: 2011
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* Deleted Scenes