The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: Sony Pictures - 2008
MPAA Rating: R
Feature running time: 100 Minutes
Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 2.35:1
Audio Format(s): English Dolby TrueHD 5.1
Subtitles: English, English SDH
Starring: Mark Ruffalo, Ethan Hawke, Amada Peet, Brian Goodman, Donnie Wahlberg
Directed by: Brian Goodman
Music by: Alex Wurman
Written by: Brian Goodman, Donnie Wahlberg, Paul T. Murray
Region Code: A,B,C
Blu-ray Disc release Date: April 28, 2009
"They didn't chose a life of crime. They came from it"
Brian (Mark Ruffalo) and Paulie (Academy Award® nominee Ethan Hawke, Best Actor In a Supporting Role for Training Day, 2001) are two lifelong friends who grew up like brothers on the gritty streets of south Boston. They started early as street thugs living by the criminal code, doing petty crimes and misdemeanors that grew increasingly more serious. Eventually they fall under the sway of organized crime boss Pat Kelly (Brian Goodman). As Brian becomes increasingly lost in a haze of drugs and 'jobs,' he consistently disappoints his loyal wife (Amanda Peet) and their two sons. Torn between the desire to be a good husband and the lure of easy money, Brian must make the hardest choice of his life.
This is a crime drama about two longtime friends who have grown up under the tutelage of Pat Kelly, a mid level south Boston crime boss. Brian (Ruffalo) is married and has two young sons. Paulie (Hawke) is a single guy who chooses to remain unattached to anyone other than Brian. Working for Pat (Goodman) Brian and Paulie do what they are told and receive payment (a cut) as Pat sees fit. It allows them to stay afloat but nothing more. Lately Paulie has grown tired of taking all the risks and not being appropriately compensated. Brian is every bit as frustrated but doesn't wish to rock the boat. Problems arise when Paulie talks Brian into venturing out on their own and taking jobs without cutting Pat in. Brian's late hours and consistent lack of presence at home is a constant point of contention between he and his wife Stacey (Peet). He feels a deep sense of guilt over disappointing his family and has failed in attempts to turn away from the only life he has ever known. He turns to drugs and finds himself addicted to the escape he feels while under their influence. Brian and Paulie end up coming face to face with turning their backs on Pat as well as getting into trouble with the law, specifically a thorough detective by the name of Moran (Wahlberg) who has taken a special interest in Brian. Brian has come to a cross road that takes him either to his family and a different life or a continuing criminal element that could mean prison and/or death.
What doesn't kill you is a good albeit somewhat innocuous film that features strong performances from its two leads. The crime/gangster genre is filled with films just like it which doesn't make it a standout. That shouldn't be held against it because it tells a pretty good story about these two childhood friends who have grown up on the wrong side of the tracks who simply don't know anything else. Ruffalo gives one of his best performance as Brian, who is a sympathetic and troubled character. Hawke is solid as well and gives Paulie a gritty daftness that lends him an air of credibility. I am an Amanda Peet fan and would liked to have seen more of her in this role. It was obvious that Brian Goodman poured much of himself (literally) into this film. I thought that the screenplay started out well but later focused too much on Brian and his familial/drug related issues. The film's ending was predictable yet satisfying. All in all I thought this was a decent watch that held my interest throughout.
The rating is for drug use, violence, language and brief sexuality.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
What doesn't kill you comes to Blu-ray from Sony featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 24 mbps and lossless Dolby TrueHD 5.1 channel audio that has an average bitrate of 2.5 mbps.
Here is another solid encoding from Sony that features well delineated high definition video that offers deep, stable blacks and predominantly pristine imagery. Contrast is dynamic without white washing bright sequences. Shadow detail is excellent and provides plenty of depth during dimly lit dark segments. The cooler color scheme is nicely balanced and flesh tones have defining texture and natural quality. The film has a distinctive look that captures the essence of the winter season and the environs where it was shot. I didn't seen any obvious signs of video related anomalies or distracting artifacts. The Dolby TrueHD sound quality was perfectly suited to the film's dialogue driven elements that occasionally required punchy dynamics to underscore its more visceral moments. The front soundstage had a one dimensional focus with dialogue planted firmly in the center channel with directional cues mixed to the left/right speakers. Detail and clarity were excellent which added a sense of realism to the sounds contained within the mix. The rear channels were used sparingly but effectively to broaden the sound field when appropriate. There was little need for heavy use of the entire system platform. This audio presentation was right on the money and conveyed the film's elements very well.
- Commentary with Director/Writer Brian Goodman and Writer Donnie Wahlberg
- 13 deleted/alternate scenes
- Makes you stronger: The making of What doesnt kill you - 19 minute featurette
- (HD) 7 BD previews
- BD-Live enabled
What doesn't kill you is an average genre film that is made better by the strong performances by Ethan Hawke and Mark Ruffalo. The story isn't very original but it tries to be genuine in its depiction of these two characters (especially Brian). Sony has done a very nice job with its presentation on Blu-ray Disc as it looks and sounds great. The bonus features aren't very comprehensive but provide some insights into the story's background and characters as told by the cast and crew. I enjoyed it and readily recommend it as a rental.
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