97 Minutes

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Vertical;
Thriller;
$17.99 DVD, $19.99 Blu-ray;
Not rated.
Stars Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Alec Baldwin, MyAnna Buring, Jo Martin, Michael Sirow, Pavan Grover, Anjul Nigam, Jake Hayes, Slavko Slobin, Kasia Koleczek.

Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Alec Baldwin head an otherwise no-star cast in a direct-to-video thriller being hyped as a “ticking clock scenario” even though the film’s running time is four minutes shy of the title. (97 Minutes refers to the amount of time hijacked flight 420 from Heathrow to JFK International has before running out of fuel.) A computer-generated aerial view of the Atlantic Ocean is the first thing we see before swooping down on a passenger airliner and gradually slinking across the fuselage playing Peeping Tom through the cabin windows. This all technique, no nuance approach has the same effect as chucking a monkey wrench in a 767 engine. A simple hijacking would be out of fashion by today’s wantonly adrenalized standards. Before the title hits the screen a flight attendant, air marshal, and the pilot are all dispatched with single, fatal, digital bullets. Banking on audiences’ built-in familiarity with the genre, writer/producer/co-star Pavan Grover and director Timo Vuorensola forgo character formalities, cook up a clever third act twist, and proceed to work backward with no cliche left deterred.

The tropes just keep on ticking. The five hijackers are incendiary, standing order Russkies, none of whom are particularly distinguishable save the mercenary troupe’s one female planenapper. Alex: Code Name Steak-Knife (Meyers) is the de rigueur inside man, a deep cover government operative free to move about the cabin. First things first: disengage the failsafe switch so neither terrorist pilot nor Director Hawkins’ (Baldwin) underlings at National Security Headquarters can commandeer the plane. Pilot Gill’s (Danny Bohnen) young but wise beyond his years son Sam is quick to catch on to the skyjacker’s game. Aware of the insurgent eavesdropping around the corner, Sam asks Interpol agent Alex how long he’s been a terrorist. He should have questioned his reasoning behind using the cabin as a shooting gallery. A stray bullet that pierces the hull causes a dip in cabin pressure. Is there a doctor on the flight manifest? Before departing to that big terminal in the sky, Gill must be medically revived just long enough to bring Alex up to speed on how to remedy a loss of cabin pressure. Sam blames Alex for killing his father in a brief yet most melodramatic fashion. It also helps to have a doc on board when wound up Alex resorts to that old stress-relieving standby, punching out a lavatory mirror. Unnecessary backstory abounds while Dr. Kim (MyAnna Buring) nurses Alex’s hand. In the big, histrionical poker game that is life, Alex sees Dr. Kim’s accidental murder of a patient and raises her one dead 7-year-old son.

A little more than three months after the accidental shooting of Halyna Hutchins on the set of Rust, Baldwin was in Aton, Hampshire beginning work on 97 Minutes. For his part, Baldwin barks orders through folded arms. One of the few character traits assigned to the terminally tuned-out Hawkins is a forced, continuous referral to aircraft as “birds.” The filming lasted 18 days, on which Baldwin probably spent four or five. His ability to deliver made-for-TV dialogue — “Some innocent people are going to die so that more innocent people will live” — while at the same time keeping his eyes from rolling back in his head is a testament to the actor’s inability to break character. Why did Baldwin opt for a gun crazy actioner over a comedy or romance for his first feature following the Rust tragedy? (At one point Alex details how any schmo with a 3D printer could construct a homemade gun with a two-bullet capacity.) Connected to the project for 18 months, Baldwin’s character was a custom build. There is a surprise twist about two-thirds of the way through that you won’t see coming, but who cares? Good films shock and amaze at every turn, not simply build to one twist before calling it a day. In that sense, 97 Minutes feels like three hours.

Robert De Niro Actioner ‘Savage Salvation’ Headed to DVD and Blu-ray Feb. 14 From Vertical and Distribution Solutions

The Robert De Niro actioner Savage Salvation will be released on DVD and Blu-ray Feb. 14 from Vertical Entertainment and Distribution Solutions.

In the film, after his fiancée dies of an overdose, a recovering addict (Jack Huston) embarks on a vengeful killing spree, hunting down the drug dealers before the town sheriff (De Niro) puts an end to his vigilante justice.

In addition to Huston (“Fargo,” American Hustle, “Boardwalk Empire”) and De Niro (Raging Bull, Taxi Driver, Cape Fear), the film stars John Malkovitch (Dangerous Liaisons, Being John Malkovitch, “Space Force”) and Willa Fitzgerald (18½, The Goldfinch,“Scream: The TV Series”).

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Vertical Crime Actioner ‘The System’ Due on DVD and Blu-ray Jan. 3 From Distribution Solutions

The crime actioner The System will be released on DVD and Blu-ray Disc Jan. 3 from Vertical Entertainment and Distribution Solutions. 

In the film, when a young soldier newly returned from war gets caught up in a drug bust, he is recruited by the authorities to go undercover in a notoriously dangerous prison in order to figure out what is really going on.

The film stars Tyrese Gibson, Jeremy Piven, Terrence Howard and Lil Yachty.

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Bruce Willis Crime Thriller ‘Wrong Place’ Headed to DVD and Blu-ray Sept. 20

The crime thriller Wrong Place, starring Bruce Willis, will be released on DVD and Blu-ray Disc Sept. 20 from Vertical Entertainment and Distribution Solutions.

In the film, Frank, a former police chief, is hunted down by a meth kingpin seeking to silence him before he can deliver eyewitness testimony against his family. Ultimately, the kingpin finds himself up against more than he thought when he threatens to harm Frank’s daughter.

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In addition to Willis (Die Hard, Armageddon), the film stars Ashley Greene (the “Twilight” saga, Bombshell), Texas Battle (Final Destination 3, Coach Carter) and Michael Sirow (Survive the Game, Fortress), and is directed by Mike Burns.

Vertical’s Alicia Silverstone Thriller ‘Last Survivors’ Due on DVD April 26 From Distribution Solutions

Vertical Entertainment’s Alica Silverstone thriller Last Survivors will be released on DVD April 26 from Distribution Solutions.

In the science-fiction thriller, a father and son, who have been living off grid for 20 years, encounter an outsider who threatens to destroy the utopia they’ve built.

Directed by Drew Mylrea and written by Josh Janowicz, the film also stars Drew Van Acker and Stephen Moyer.

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‘Joe Bell,’ ‘Free Guy’ Top Redbox Charts

Vertical Entertainment’s Joe Bell topped Redbox’s disc rental chart the week ended Oct. 17, while Disney-owned 20th Century Studios’ Free Guy was the top Redbox On Demand title for the week.

Joe Bell, which earned $1.4 million at the domestic box office, stars Mark Wahlberg as a father who takes a road trip to bond with his gay son, who is being bullied at school. The film wasn’t be released on Blu-ray Disc or DVD until Oct. 19, but was available early at Redbox kiosks. It was No. 8 on the digital list.

Free Guy, which stars Ryan Reynolds as a bank teller who learns he is a video game character, earned $120.8 million at the domestic box office. While the film was released on disc Oct. 12, it isn’t available for rent at Redbox kiosks. It was No. 7 on the digital chart a week earlier.

Universal Pictures’ F9: The Fast Saga slipped to No. 2 on both the Redbox On Demand chart, which tracks digital VOD and sellthrough transactions, and the disc rental chart, which tracks DVD and Blu-ray Disc rentals at Redbox’s more than 40,000 red kiosks.

The No. 3 title on the disc rental chart was Warner’s Space Jam: A New Legacy, followed by Universal’s The Forever Purge at No. 4, and Sony Pictures’ Escape Room: Tournament of Champions at No. 5.

On the Redbox On Demand chart, Escape Room: Tournament of Champions was No. 3 and The Forever Purge was No. 4. No. 5 was Paramount’s Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins.

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Other newcomers to the disc rental chart include Lionsgate’s Survive the Game, with Bruce Willis, at No. 6, and The Green Knight at No. 9. Also, appearing at No. 7 was the Nicolas Cage starrer Pig from Decal, available at Redbox kiosks several weeks prior to its wide Blu-ray and DVD release.

Marvel Studios’ Black Widow, from Disney, fell to No. 8 on the disc rental chart.

Paramount’s animated Paw Patrol: The Movie landed at No. 10 on the digital chart.

Top DVD and Blu-ray Disc Rentals, Redbox Kiosks, Week Ended Oct. 17:

  1. Joe Bell — Vertical
  2. F9: The Fast Saga — Universal
  3. Space Jam: A New Legacy — Warner
  4. The Forever Purge — Universal
  5. Escape Room: Tournament of Champions — Sony Pictures
  6. Survive the Game — Lionsgate
  7. Pig — Decal
  8. Black Widow — Disney/Marvel
  9. The Green Knight — Lionsgate
  10. The Boss Baby: Family Business — Universal/DreamWorks

 

Top Digital (VOD + Sellthrough), Redbox On Demand, Week Ended Oct. 17:

  1. Free Guy — Disney/20th Century
  2. F9: The Fast Saga — Universal
  3. Escape Room: Tournament of Champions — Sony Pictures
  4. The Forever Purge — Universal
  5. Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins — Paramount
  6. The Addams Family 2 — MGM
  7. Halloween (2018) — Universal
  8. Joe Bell — Vertical
  9. The Boss Baby: Family Business — Universal/DreamWorks
  10. Paw Patrol: The Movie — Paramount

 

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Distribution Solutions in Physical Media Partnership With Vertical

Distribution Solutions, a division of Alliance Entertainment, has entered into a physical media partnership with domestic distributor Vertical Entertainment.

Distribution Solutions will handle trade marketing, procurement, warehousing, inventory management, VMI systems and management, returns processing, credit and collections, and reporting of Vertical physical sellthrough releases in the United States and Canada, and will work hand-in-hand with Vertical partner Mitch Budin, according to Distribution Solutions.

“Partnering with Vertical Entertainment is very exciting for us,” Distribution Solutions president Ben Means said in a statement. “They bring an impressive catalog of over 300 films that we look forward to putting on shelves to maximize the success of their physical releases.”

Notable films from Vertical include Out of Death (starring Bruce Willis) available on DVD and Blu-ray Sept. 14 under the agreement, Joe Bell (starring Mark Wahlberg), Four Good Days (starring Glenn Close and Mila Kunis), Capone (starring Tom Hardy, Linda Cardellini, and Matt Dillon) and Ava (starring Jessica Chastain and Colin Farrell).

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“We are incredibly pleased to be collaborating with Distribution Solutions on our future projects,” Budin said in a statement. “Ben and the DS team have built a first-class organization and we look forward to working with them to further our footprint in the marketplace.”

‘Greenland’ Top New Release on Weekly ‘Watched at Home’ Chart

The doomsday actioner Greenland debuted at No. 4 on the weekly “Watched at Home” chart for the week ended Jan. 30.

It’s the week’s highest-charting new release, and the only one to make the top five on the chart, which tracks transactional video activity (both digital and on DVD and Blu-ray Disc, but not premium VOD or disc rental) compiled from studio and retailer data and presented by DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group.

Greenland, starring Gerard Butler and Morena Baccarin, follows a family’s fight for survival as a planet-killing comet races to Earth. The film launched on premium VOD in the United States Dec. 18 as a $19.99 48-hour rental. The STX Entertainment release subsequently became available for digital purchase Jan. 26 and will be issued on Blu-ray Disc and DVD Feb. 9.

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Other new releases on the “Watched at Home” chart for the week ended Jan. 30 include Batman: Soul of the Dragon, which debuted at No. 12; Synchronic, which bowed at No. 17; Come Play, which entered the chart at No. 16; and Freaky at No. 18.

Batman, Synchronic and Come Play were released on Blu-ray Disc and DVD Jan. 26 after two weeks of availability via digital sellthrough.

The animated Batman: Soul of the Dragon, also available on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray from Warner Bros., is the 41st film in the DC Universe series of animated movies. The Elseworlds tale, set in the 1970s, has Bruce Wayne in martial arts training alongside other students under a master sensei to confront a deadly menace. Read a review of the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray here.

Synchronic, from independent distributor Well Go USA, is a sci-fi thriller about two paramedics who discover a drug that enables time travel. The film enjoyed a one-week disc rental window at Redbox kiosks a week before its wide disc release on Jan. 26.

The supernatural thriller Come Play, from Universal, follows a young boy who relies on his cell phone and tablet for companionship as he befriends a strange and sinister non-human creature. When the mysterious creature uses the devices to break into our world, his parents must fight to save their son.

Freaky, the latest horror film from Blumhouse, stars Kathryn Newton as Millie, a high school senior who switches bodies with a relentless serial killer nicknamed “The Butcher,” portrayed by Vince Vaughn. Now looking like a towering psychopath, Millie learns she only has 24 hours to reverse the curse and get her body back before the switch becomes permanent and she’s trapped in the form of a middle-aged maniac forever. It was made available via VOD in December.

Also new to the “Watched at Home” chart is Warner’s Godzilla: King of the Monsters, a summer 2019 home release that popped up at No. 11 as excitement builds over the next installment in the monster franchise, Godzilla vs. Kong, a mashup that will bow March 31 in theaters and on HBO Max.

Consumers were also intrigued with two Wall Street movies from Paramount Pictures in the wake of the GameStop stock frenzy. The Wolf of Wall Street jumped 10 spots to No. 9 on the “Watched at Home” chart, while The Big Short entered the top 20 for the first time at No. 13.

The Vertical Entertainment drama American Skin, about a Marine veteran who seeks justice when his son is killed by a police officer, remained at No. 1 for a second consecutive week, with Warner Bros.’ Tenet repeating at No. 2 and Universal’s Honest Thief again at No. 3. Rounding out the top 5 was Universal’s The War With Grandpa, down a notch from No. 4 the prior week.

Returning to the top 20 for the first time since early January was Paramount’s dark comedy Fatman, which stars Mel Gibson as a curmudgeonly Chris Cringle who after gifting a spoiled rich kid a lump of coal finds himself the target of a hitman. Read a review of the  Blu-ray Disc here.

  1. American Skin (Vertical)
  2. Tenet (Warner)
  3. Honest Thief (Universal)
  4. Greenland (Universal)
  5. The War with Grandpa (Universal)
  6. Yellowstone: Season 3 (Paramount)
  7. Yellowstone: Season 1 (Paramount)
  8. Harry Potter Complete 8-Film Collection (Warner)
  9. The Wolf of Wall Street (Paramount)
  10. Yellowstone: Season 2 (Paramount)
  11. Godzilla: King of the Monsters (Warner)
  12. Batman: Soul of the Dragon (Warner)
  13. The Big Short (Paramount)
  14. Let Him Go (Universal)
  15. Love and Monsters (Paramount)
  16. Come Play (Universal)
  17. Synchronic (Well Go USA)
  18. Freaky (Universal)
  19. The Office: The Complete Series (Universal)
  20. Fatman (Paramount)

 

Source: DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group
Includes U.S. digital sales, digital rentals, and DVD, Blu-ray Disc and 4K Ultra HD sales for the week ended Jan. 30.

Flurry of New Films, Including ‘Spell,’ ‘Come Play,’ ‘Skylines’ and Animated ‘Batman: Soul of the Dragon’ Debuting Jan. 12 on Digital, Disc

A batch of new movies, including Paramount Home Entertainment’s Spell and Jungleland and Universal Pictures Home Entertainment’s Ammonite and Come Play, top the slate of new disc and digital releases available Jan. 12.

Also new in stores are Skylines and two other new films from Lionsgate and several animated cartoon compilations and movies, including Warner Bros.’ Batman: Soul of the Dragon, which is making its digital debut two weeks prior to its release on disc.

Spell, available on Blu-ray Disc and DVD, stars Omari Hardwick as a man flying his family to his father’s funeral in rural Appalachia. He loses control of the plane in an intense storm and awakens alone, wounded, and trapped in the attic of a woman who claims she can nurse him back to health with a Hoodoo figure she has made from his blood and skin.

Jungleland, a DVD-only release, is a buddy film from Vertical Entertainment that stars Charlie Hunnam, Jack O’Connell and Jessica Barden. The film was released Nov. 10 on premium VOD and for digital purchase — four days after its theatrical debut, in a limited release. Directed and co-written by Max Winkler, Jungleland follows two brothers struggling to stay relevant in the underground world of bare-knuckle boxing, and facing danger when one of them falls into debt with a crime boss.

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Ammonite, about a passionate and all-consuming love affair that changes the lives of two 19th century women, becomes available Jan. 12 through digital retailers and on demand, as well as on Blu-ray Disc and DVD.  The film, written and directed by Francis Lee (God’s Own Country), stars Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan.

Come Play makes its digital debut Jan. 12, two weeks ahead of its Blu-ray Disc and DVD release. The supernatural thriller is about a young boy who relies on his cell phone and tablet for companionship. He befriends a strange and sinister non-human creature; when the mysterious creature uses the devices to break into our world, his parents must fight to save their son.

The three new releases from Lionsgate include Skylines, the third and final installment in the science-fiction “Skyline” trilogy. Directed by Liam O’Donnell, the film stars Lindsey Morgan and Rhona Mitra and was initially released last December by Vertical Entertainment in theaters and on Apple TV. It is now available on Blu-ray Disc and DVD as well as through digital retailers such as FandangoNow and Redbox On Demand. The film details the battle between defenders from Earth and invaders from the moon.

Also out from Lionsgate, on DVD and digital only, are the crime thriller American Dream,  about two entrepreneurs (Luke Bracey and Michiel Huisman) who wind up beholden to a Russian mobster (Nick Stahl), and Parallel, another Vertical Entertainment release, starring Kathleen Quinlan, in which a group of friends stumble upon a mirror that serves as a portal to a “multiverse,” but soon discover that importing knowledge from the other side in order to better their lives brings increasingly dangerous consequences.

Also available on Jan. 12 is the crime thriller Coming From Insanity, which home viewers can rent or purchase from digital retailers or watch on demand. The Level 33 Entertainment release follows Kossi, one of many children trafficked and sold into servitude in Nigeria.

Warner’s Batman: Soul of the Dragon, the 41st film in the DC Universe series of animated movies, arrives on digital sellthrough Jan. 12 ahead of its Jan. 26 release on Blu-ray Disc and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray. The Elseworlds tale is set in the 1970s and finds Bruce Wayne in martial arts training alongside other students under a master sensei to confront a deadly menace. Batman, joins forces with Richard Dragon, Ben Turner and Lady Shiva, and their mentor O-Sensei, to battle the monsters of this world and beyond.

Also on the cartoon front, Paramount Home Entertainment is out with Nickelodeon’s SpongeBob SquarePants: The Complete Twelfth Season on DVD only. In the 12th season, Gary tries out a new pair of legs to keep up with SpongeBob and Plankton and practice ruling the world in SpongeBob’s aquarium.

Cartoon fans also may be interested in Mill Creek Entertainment’s release of Ultraman Taro: The Complete Series  on Blu-ray Disc as both a special edition Steelbook and in standard packaging. It’s the North American debut of the series, which has never been broadcast on TV or available on any home entertainment format.

A complete list of new disc and digital releases, compiled each week by the Media Play News market research team, can be found here.

Paramount Releasing Margot Robbie Film ‘Dreamland’ Through PVOD Nov. 17

Paramount Home Entertainment will release the romantic drama Dreamland through premium video-on-demand and digital sellthrough Nov. 17. The film, which stars Margot Robbie and Finn Cole, will receive a limited theatrical run in more than 100 venues starting Nov. 13 from Vertical Entertainment.

The stylish drama from Romulus Entertainment, Titan Worldwide Entertainment, LuckyChap Entertainment and Automatik features a love story set in the Great Depression. Cole plays Eugene Evans, who dreams of escaping his small Texas town when he discovers a wounded, fugitive bank robber (Robbie, who also serves as one of the film’s producers). Torn between claiming the bounty for her capture and his growing attraction to the seductive criminal, Eugene must make a decision that will forever affect the lives of everyone he’s ever loved.

The cast also includes Travis Fimmel, Kerry Condon, Darby Camp and Lola Kirke.

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