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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IFC Films to Issue ‘Last Call’ on DVD Sept. 21

IFC Films has set a Sept. 21 release date for Last Call, a comedy-drama starring Jeremy Piven, which will arrive on DVD at a suggested list price of $24.98.

IFC Films is a leading distributor of talent-driven independent films.

Piven portrays Mick, a local success story and real estate developer who returns home to his offbeat blue-collar Irish neighborhood in the shadows of Philadelphia for a funeral and is obligated to stay to ensure his parents’ ailing family business gets back on course.

Amid all of this, he grows closer to his childhood crush (Taryn Manning), who is also back in town, while enduring the constant ridicule of his old hometown crew. As Mick begins to reconnect with the neighborhood he grew up in, he finds himself at a crossroads when forced to either raze or resurrect the family bar.

Piven is best known for his role as Ari Gold in the comedy series “Entourage,” for which he won a Golden Globe Award and three consecutive Emmy Awards.

Manning appeared in the Netflix series “Orange Is the New Black” as well as the films Hustle & Flow and 8 Mile.

The film also stars Zack McGowan, Jamie Kennedy of Scream fame, and legendary actor Bruce Dern, who received Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor Academy Award nominations for Nebraska and Coming Home, respectively.