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Case Number 27473: Small Claims Court

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McCanick (Blu-ray)

Well Go USA // 2013 // 98 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Gordon Sullivan // June 12th, 2014

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All Rise...

Judge Gordon Sullivan has impulse control problems.

The Charge

Let the punishment fit the crime.

The Case

It's hard to know what acting is sometimes. For some it's the projection of inward emotions in outward behavior. For some it's showing up with lines memorized and speaking them clearly. For others it's about performing certain actions. Each of these definitions leads to a different kind of actor and a different kind of performance. On top of that, there is the almost unnamable quality we associate with different kinds of stars—the glow of a Marilyn Monroe, the gravity of an Anthony Hopkins, the charm of a Cary Grant. Perhaps even more mysterious is why some actors go straight to the top, while others end up as the memorable character actors filling out the second rank. David Morse is one of those actors who rarely get to hog the spotlight but absolutely elevates everything he's involved in. McCanick is a case in point. Though it's a derivative cop-thriller, Morse's menacing performance keeps it from capsizing completely.

McCanick (David Morse, The Green Mile) is a narcotics detective who has a history with Simon Weeks (Cory Monteith, Glee). When McCanick discovers that Weeks ahs been let out of prison a bit early, he instigates a man hunt that goes off the books and gets increasingly desperate, as McCanick has something to hide.

The main problem with McCanick is that we've seen this all before. We've got the narcotics cop with a checkered/violent past. We've got the criminal from his past who can expose his secrets. We've got the Aristotelian 24 hour, day-in-the-life trick to heighten the tension. There's the requisite violence and foul language to convince us these cops and criminals are serious about their business. If you've seen any one of the dozen Training Day-like films that have come out in the last decade or so you'll have no problem figuring out where McCanick is coming from and exactly where it's going.

A film like this could be saved by a stellar execution, making up in competence what it lacks in surprise. Here the film also disappoints. Though there's nothing particularly wrong with McCanick, in fact for the budget it might be impressive, its execution doesn't elevate the familiar material beyond competence. We've got the dark image, the color grading that makes everything look gritty and a bit sickly, and the camera that can't quite settle down.

Scrape away all the derivative bad-cop-hiding-his-past nonsense and you're left with two very good performances. David Morse is his usual excellent, menacing self. He makes McCanick believable as both absolutely in control (at least as far as projecting violence is concerned) and increasingly desperate to find Weeks and shut him up. Though the performance is hardly a revelation (we've seen this kind of cop before, and we've seen Morse be this menacing before), it's the kind of feature-length anchor that makes the film worth watching.

His opposite is Cory Monteith as Weeks, the prey to Morse's predator. It's hard not to view this performance as one of tremendous potential, as this is Monteith's final filmed performance before his drug-related death. Though fans of the Glee actor may find he's not in enough of the film for their liking, when Monteith is on screen he possesses a surprising assurance even as he has to play the scared ex-con. Though McCanick will likely disappoint those looking for lots of Monteith, as a final performance it does a fine job showing his range and potential.

Whatever the merits of the film, McCanick gets a strong Blu-ray presentation. The 2.39:1/1080p AVC-encoded transfer is on the yellow side, but that color manipulation looks intentional. Overall, detail is strong throughout, and aside from the intentional grading, colors look well saturated. Black levels are deep and consistent, with no compression artifacts to speak of. The film's DTS-HD soundtrack matches the visuals. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout, and the surrounds get used almost constantly to establish atmosphere, with impressive dynamic range.

Extras start with a 10 minute making-of featurette and 16 minutes of deleted/extended scenes. The film's trailer is also included.

McCanick will likely remain a historical curiosity for some time to come. As the final performance of Glee's Cory Monteith, and one where he plays someone involved in drugs, it stands as an example of the range he was capable of and a career cut tragically short. For David Morse it's further proof that he can project menace and keep an audience's attention under dodgy circumstance. Despite these excellent performances, McCanick is probably best experienced as a rental for those with low expectations and a love of crooked-cop narratives.

The Verdict

Not guilty.

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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 80

Perp Profile

Studio: Well Go USA
Video Formats:
• 2.40:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
Audio Formats:
• DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (English)
• English
Running Time: 98 Minutes
Release Year: 2013
MPAA Rating: Rated R
• Crime
• Drama
• Mystery
• Thriller

Distinguishing Marks

• Deleted/Extended Scenes
• Featurette
• Trailer


• IMDb

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