The Gateway

BLU-RAY REVIEW: 

Lionsgate;
Thriller;
19.98 DVD, $21.99 Blu-ray;
Rated ‘R’ for strong violence, pervasive language, drug use, some sexual content and nudity.
Stars Shea Whigham, Olivia Munn, Taryn Manning, Mark Boone Junior, Taegen Burns, Frank Grillo, Bruce Dern.

The crime drama The Gateway offers a strong cast and the seeds of tackling a relevant social issue, but ends up muddling its focus by swerving into the realm of the action thriller.

The always welcome Shea Whigham — the go-to character actor for gruff, hard-edged personalities — stars as Parker, a heavy-drinking, drug-addicted social worker trying to maintain his sanity at work while keeping an eye on kids whose parents have crossed the law one too many times.

He takes a special interest in Ashley (Taegen Burns), whose father is in prison and whose mother (Olivia Munn) works at a local casino trying to make ends meet, often neglecting to remember to take her daughter to school.

Soon enough, though, Daddy’s out on parole, beating up his baby momma and involved in a drug ring led by a crime boss played by Frank Grillo. Parker is resolved to protect Ashley no matter the cost, even as he’s ordered to leave the family alone.

The movie tries to shed some light on the grim realities of the foster care system, with Parker trying atone for his own troubled upbringing and shady past by trying to find a kid to do right by who isn’t a hopeless cause. But the drug gang subplot that ends up taking over the movie is mostly generic crime thriller stuff.

Still, Whigham makes for a compelling screen presence, and Munn turns in some good work as the put-upon mother whose loyalties are twisted by circumstance.

The Blu-ray contains the film’s trailer and a single four-minute featurette called “Living Legends: The Cast of The Gateway” in which the filmmakers and cast discuss making the film.

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The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Street Date 8/17/21;
Lionsgate;
Action Comedy;
Box Office $37.74 million;
$29.96 DVD, $39.99 Blu-ray, $42.99 UHD BD;
Rated ‘R’ for strong bloody violence throughout, pervasive language, and some sexual content.
Stars
Ryan Reynolds, Samuel L. Jackson, Salma Hayek, Antonio Banderas, Frank Grillo, Richard E. Grant, Morgan Freeman.

The sequel to 2017’s The HItman’s Bodyguard, like its predecessor, is an affable actioner that coasts on irreverent humor and a solid cast that appears to be having fun with the proceedings.

Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard looks in on disgraced personal bodyguard Michael Bryce (Ryan Reynolds) who is having nightmares about Darius Kincaid (Samuel L. Jackson), the notorious hitman from the first film he was tasked with protecting against agents of a European despot he was set to testify against.

As a result of those events, Bryce has been refused recertification by the bodyguard licensing agency, and is instructed by a therapist to take a long vacation to put thoughts of violence behind him. His sabbatical to a tropical beach is short-lived, however, when he is recruited by Darius’ wife, Sonia (Salma Hayek, who gets to expand her small role from the first movie) to help rescue her husband from an international cartel.

Extracting him embroils the trio in a larger plot involving a Greek shipping magnate and criminal mastermind (Antonio Banderas) who seeks revenge against the European Union for imposing economic sanctions on Greece.

As pressure on them mounts from the Interpol agent (Frank Grillo) overseeing the operation, Bryce turns to his stepfather (Morgan Freeman) for help, which only gets them into more trouble.

Another subplot involves Sonia and Darius trying to have a baby, but her loyalty is called into question when it turns out she and the tycoon used to be an item.

What the film lacks in subtlety it makes up for with inventive mayhem and bloody action juxtaposed by the odd couple relationship between the Kincaids, who seem to enjoy unleashing casual violence on their enemies, and Bryce, who insists on tackling the mission without killing anyone or even using a gun.

As with the first movie, the breezy attitude of Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard makes it a fun diversion, but it’s unlikely to have much staying power after the credits roll.

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The Blu-ray includes a five-minute gag reel and several good bonus featurettes, including the nine-minute “Ryan, Sam, Salma: One F’d Up Family,” the seven-minute “Gone Soft: The New Michael Bryce,” the eight-minute “#stuntlife” and the four-minute “On the Set of Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard.”

The 4K disc has the same extra content as the regular Blu-ray disc.

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Batman: The Long Halloween — Part Two

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Street Date 8/10/21;
Warner;
Animated;
$34.98 Blu-ray;
Rated ‘R’ for some violence and bloody images.
Voices of Jensen Ackles, Josh Duhamel, Naya Rivera, Billy Burke, Katee Sackhoff, Titus Welliver, David Dastmalchian, Troy Baker, Amy Landecker, Julie Nathanson, Fred Tatasciore, Alastair Duncan.

The second half of The Long Halloween delivers a satisfying conclusion to the animated adaptation of the famed 1990s Batman comic book story.

In Part Two, Gotham’s mob bosses struggle to maintain control of their traditional criminal enterprises as Gotham City continues to be overrun by costumed supervillains in the wake of Batman’s rise as the city’s protector. Picking up from the post-credits scene of Part One, Poison Ivy (Katee Sackhoff) has enthralled Bruce Wayne (Jensen Ackles) into signing over his assets to mafia kingpin Carmine Falcone (Titus Welliver), but the scheme is thwarted by Catwoman (Naya Rivera). Meanwhile, the serial killer known as Holiday continues to wage war on Gotham’s crime families, leading to rampant speculation over the murderer’s true identity.

When suspicion falls upon district attorney Harvey Dent (Josh Duhamel), a surprise attack leaves him physically scarred, transforming him into the villainous Two-Face, and sealing the fate of Gotham’s future once and for all.

Part Two is darker and bloodier than the first half, with graphic animated violence throughout.

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Neither of the Blu-rays for parts one or two includes a featurette about the source material, which is pretty common for the DC Universe animated movies, so perhaps one is being saved for the upcoming 4K Blu-ray that combines both halves into a single longer film, which is slated for next year.

The Part Two Blu-ray does include featurettes about several earlier DC movies, plus a 10-minute preview of the upcoming Injustice animated movie based on the video game about DC heroes fighting each other.

The Blu-ray also includes the excellent two-part “Two-Face” episode depicting the villains origin on “Batman: The Animated Series.”

Also included is the 15-minute DC Showcase animated short Blue Beetle, which is a hilarious homage to the style of superhero cartoons from the 1960s and ’70s, even down to the goofy theme song. The story involves Blue Beetle (Matt Lanter) investigating a villain who uses soda to brainwash people into becoming his henchmen.

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Bruce Willis Film ‘Cosmic Sin’ Coming to DVD May 18 From Paramount

The Bruce Willis starrer Cosmic Sin will come out on DVD May 18 from Paramount Home Entertainment.

The film is already available in select theaters, on digital and on demand.

Willis and Frank Grillo star in the sci-fi adventure set in the year 2524, four hundred years after humans started colonizing the outer planets. Retired military general James Ford (Willis) is called back into service after soldiers on a remote planet are attacked by a hostile alien fleet. The threat against the human race escalates into an inevitable interstellar war. Gen. Ford teams up with Gen. Eron Ryle (Grillo) and a team of elite soldiers in a race to stop the imminent attack before it is too late.

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The film also stars Brandon Thomas Lee, Corey Large, Perrey Reeves, C.J. Perry, Lochlyn Munro and Costas Mandylor.

‘Hell on the Border’ Arriving on Home Video Feb. 11 From Lionsgate

Lionsgate will release the Western Hell on the Border on Blu-ray Disc, DVD and through digital retailers Feb. 11. It is currently available on demand.

Based on a true story, the film follows Bass Reeves (David Gyasi), aided by his trusted journeyman (Ron Perlman), on his quest to bring a deadly outlaw (Frank Grillo) to justice and become the first black U.S. Marshal in the Wild West.

Reeves is often cited as one of the real-life inspirations for the Lone Ranger. The legend of Reeves also plays a role in HBO’s recent “Watchmen” TV series.

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The Hell on the Border cast also includes Chris Mullinax, Jacqueline Fleming, Gianni Capaldi and Zach McClarnon.

The disc includes a commentary with writer-director Wes Miller and camera operator Ronald Bourdeau.

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Action Movie ‘Reprisal’ Arrives on Disc and Digital Oct. 16

Lionsgate will release the action film Reprisal on Blu-ray, DVD and digitally Oct. 16.

The film stars Frank Grillo as a bank manager who, after his co-worker is killed in a heist, teams with an ex-cop neighbor (Bruce Willis) to track down the thief and avenge the assault, all while trying to keep his family safe.

The Reprisal Blu-ray, DVD and digital release includes a making-of featurette and interviews with the cast and filmmakers.

The film is currently available on demand.