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Out for Justice(1991)
Out for action? You found it! Steven Seagal hits the target like nobody else in this pounding police thriller. Brooklyn-born cop Gino has seen many changes in "the neighborhood." One sad one is that boyhood adversary-turned-criminal scum Richie has turned local streets into war zones. He’s a mad dog unleashed and Gino and his world-weary partner must hunt him down before the body count multiplies.
For more about Out for Justice and the Out for Justice Blu-ray release, see Out for Justice Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on January 15, 2010 where this Blu-ray release scored 1.5 out of 5.
Starring: Steven Seagal, William Forsythe, Jerry Orbach, Jo Champa, Shareen J. Mitchell, Gina Gershon
Director: John Flynn
» See full cast & crew
Out for Justice Blu-ray Review
A DVD in Blu clothing.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, January 15, 2010
How can I keep you from killing my son?
A reliable, violent, but slightly uneven early entry into martial arts superstar Steven Seagal's (Under Siege) filmography, Out For Justice earns merit points for style that are nevertheless negated by a somewhat overly complex plot that tries to embrace a hardcore street-level grit and tone and weave together a far more intricate series of events and interconnected characters that are meant to give more weight to the picture and its action scenes but only serve to devour the experience with an abundance of excessive plot arcs and characters that ultimately do little to move the picture along through to the violent but otherwise standard action scenes and satisfying if not completely predictable finale. It's a nice change of pace to see an action film take the time to try and make the story more than a one-dimmensional shooter, but Out For Justice just feels a bit too heavy for what it ultimately is, a tale of revenge set against the backdrop the grimy city landscape where everyone's got a gun and there's no justice but what the street doles out.
Brooklyn Detective Gino Felino (Seagal) is a no-nonsense cop on the mean streets of the borough but also a vulnerable family man on the verge of divorce. When his partner Bobby (Joe Spataro) is murdered in broad daylight by a cracked-out thug named Richie Madano (William Forsythe, The Rock), Gino secures a shotgun and a car and sets out to take Richie down at all costs. The matter is complicated by Gino's ties to the local mob, the mob's eagerness to take out Richie, and Gino's long history with Richie -- and Richie's family -- that dates back to their childhoods. As Gino searches for Richie, he begins to piece together the motive behind the murder, learning that the slaying wasn't just a random act of violence. With the entire borough on edge, Gino carves his way through a series of bad guys in search of the ultimate prize, a true cops-and-killers story of revenge, despair, and dangerous secrets amidst the city's sleaziest locales and citizens simply caught in the deadly crossfire.
Although this is Steven Seagal's movie, the film's true star is William Forsythe, whose portrayal of Richie is one for the record books, his take painting the character as one of cinema's most crazed and unforgiving killers influenced by crack and years of hardships that have pushed him over the edge. It's a ridiculously over-the-top effort, but then again, the character himself seems so far gone that the only humanity that seems to remain is the basic physical shape of a man -- the flesh and bone -- that houses an insanely deplorable human being that kills with but the slightest of provocation and feels no remorse after the fact. It's a strong effort lost to a slightly-above-average Action film, and the character's deeply-rooted but sometimes superficially humorous craze might leave viewers mistaking the character as a sideshow rather than a dangerous and disturbed individual. Forsythe seems to enjoy the opportunity to let loose his wild side, creating a loudmouth, relentless, and unforgiving villain that's generally found only in the deepest recesses of the human psyche rather than as a surfaced and dominant personality. Additionally, Seagal's effort here is sound, the actor delivering a convincing effort as a street-smart and highly territorial and proud Brooklyn detective who is of both a stern front and a gentle heart. With no qualms about blasting a bad guy and slicing a hand with a meat cleaver in one moment and attempting to reconcile his relationship and save a puppy left for dead in another, the character might be a bit of a walking cliché but Seagal nevertheless delivers a suitably good effort in an intriguing but barely better-than-generic part. Of course, he's also at the top of his game when it comes to action, performing a generous helping of kicks and punches, engaging in a bit of stick fighting, and brandishing his trusty 1911 pattern pistol that seems a constant Seagal companion in several of his films.
Out For Justice features a basic nuts-and-bolts story that incorporates plenty of local flavor that would be a help to the picture were it not so much a heavy part of the story and seemingly playing a bigger role than the action-at-large. At its core, this is but the simple tale of a cop out for revenge, the film portraying Seagal's character as a vigilante with a badge and free reign to bust some chops and clean house, even if it means tearing the house down and starting from scratch. As a result, Out For Justice is deliciously brutal, a film that's anything and everything but glitzy and glamorous. Director John Flynn (Lock Up) does a fine job of capturing the tension and ugliness of the mean streets, and whether things in Brooklyn were this bad in the late 1980s or early 1990s, it makes for decent cinema in a mindless, go-get-em Action movie sort of way. Indeed, there's a throwback sort of feel here to the street-level and grimy world of 1970s action. The violence is rough-and-tumble but not excessively exaggerated; characters both good and bad are in some way unscrupulous; and even the hero -- who has a heart as big as his arsenal -- is presented as a character that leads a life that's far from perfect.
Out for Justice Blu-ray, Video Quality
Out For Justice lumbers onto Blu-ray with a passable but not at all visually impressive 1080p, 2.35:1-framed transfer. Though a distinctly gritty film in tone, the disc features some unattractive noise and an occasionally overly sharpened, processed look to some of the brighter exterior scenes. Fine detail and clarity are serviceable in such scenes -- and even above average in a few -- with a decent depth of field and average detail and texturing on the city's many rough concrete and brick surfaces that define the urban jungle. Unfortunately, facial detail is often flat, smooth, and unconvincing. Color reproduction is decent in the brighter scenes, though mono-colored garments featuring excessively bright hues look over-pumped and phony next to lesser, more neutral shades. Interior scenes don't fare as well, many appearing far darker and with poor lighting. Fine detail almost vanishes, depth is reduced to almost zero, and a general haze permeates the image. Additionally, blacks can devour the screen, and flesh tones can range from ghastly to overly red. Even with a remaster, it's doubtful that Out For Justice will ever look all that good, but this sloppy, unattractive image certainly isn't befitting the film.
Out for Justice Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Out For Justice offers a whimpering Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack that would've proven a disappointment some years ago on DVD. There's a total lack of clarity and limited range, making for an altogether puny presentation. The film's score -- particularly its various 80s and early 90s beats -- comes across as cramped and terribly low in general volume even at reference level, not to mention a distinct absence in the aforementioned clarity and range. Sounds effects are consistently mushy and phony; gunfire can't even match the sonic signature of a child's cap gun, lacking even that distinctive crack. Instead each shot comes across as a dull, lifeless thump that completely takes the listener out of every action scene. Other ambient effects -- the sounds of the bustling Brooklyn streets or distant thunder and light rain showers -- are unconvincing at best and muffled at worst. Additionally, dialogue is sometimes garbled and borderline unintelligible. In a nutshell, Out For Justice's lossy soundtrack is one of the least impressive to be found on the Blu-ray format.
Out for Justice Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Only the Out For Justice theatrical trailer (480p, 1:39) is included.
Out for Justice Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
All told, Out For Justice is quintessential and classic Seagal, the film a dirty, no-holds-barred sort that's entertaining if not a bit excessive in its attempt to cobble together a more elaborate story and character and thematic interconnections than need be. Still, Director John Flynn's picture satisfies the basics of Action movie criteria, delivering a strong hero, a memorable villain, plenty of gunplay, and excessive violence, even amidst some horrendous pacing issues and a flat, no-nonsense visual style that's nevertheless reflective of the gritty Brooklyn world that itself seems a central character in the film. In the end, Out For Justice is a worthwhile if not somewhat flawed throwback Action picture that eschews any hint of glamour in favor of a relentlessly -- and here highly appropriate -- grim tone. Speaking of flawed, Warner Brothers' Blu-ray release of Out For Justice barely fares better than its standard definition DVD counterpart. Featuring a transfer that's only a notch or two better than a decent unconverted DVD, a lossy soundtrack that would have proved terribly mediocre 10 years ago, and next to no extras, this disc, unfortunately, is one to avoid, and fans would be best served to hang onto the DVD until a better and more feature-packed disc is one day, hopefully, released.
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