DVD Review HTF REVIEW: Crime Spree

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Scott Kimball, Dec 23, 2003.

  1. Scott Kimball

    Scott Kimball Screenwriter

    May 8, 2000
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    Crime Spree

    Studio: Paramount

    Year: 2003

    Rated: R

    Length: 105 minutes

    Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Anamorphic & Fullscreen on one disc

    Audio: DD 5.1 English; English 2.0 Surround, Spanish 2.0 Surround, Commentary track

    No Subtitles

    Release Date: December 23, 2003

    Crime Spree is an odd concoction of a film by Brad Mirman. Imagine if Quentin Tarantino made a Jerry Lewis movie, and you’ll have some idea of where this film is headed.

    A group of French thieves (Gerard Depardieu, Johnny Hallyday, Renaud, etc...) are sent from Paris to Chicago to pull off a job, and find that they’ve been set up - only after getting tangled in a planned mob hit. Chicago mobsters are played by Abe Vigoda and Harvey Keitel. The French group soon finds themselves pursued by the mob, the FBI and a couple of Chicago street gangs.

    The film does take some interesting twists and turns, so I won’t comment further on the plot.

    The construction leaves you a bit off-balance at times, moving from slapstick to gang and mob violence in seconds - and then back to slapstick again. And characters who are introduced as incompetent fools inexplicably become among the smartest and toughest characters in the film. The pacing is rather abrupt, moving directly from point A to B to C and so on, with little superfluous exposition or character building. The comedy sometimes works wonderfully, and sometimes falls flat. And, some of the humor is dependent on knowledge of French pop-culture (what with two French icons Hallyday and Renaud involved in the film).

    Watching the film, I wasn’t sure what to think of it all... but by the end I was oddly satisfied. If that doesn’t sound like a ringing endorsement, it’s because it isn’t. Crime Spree is an interesting little film, but it’s one that can’t decide what it wants to be. You’ll get a chuckle now and then, and a surprise or two - but ultimately, this one is forgettable. Harvey Keitel’s performance was somewhat of a disappointment - but Gerard Depardieu was interesting to watch.

    Crime Spree is in English and French, with burned in English subtitles in the French scenes. There are no subtitle tracks on the disc.

    The Video
    Crime Spree is offered up in both anamorphic 1.85:1 and fullscreen on the same side of the DVD-9 disc. The video version is selectable via the setup menu, but the widescreen version will play by default. The film is 105 minutes long and there are four soundtracks (one 5.1 and two 2.0 plus a commentary track). The picture is a touch on the soft side, but not too bad... I don’t know if it would have benefitted from more space via the removal of the fullscreen video. Otherwise, the picture is very clean (no dust or scratches), bright with good contrast and good shadow detail, and no evidence of edge enhancement. Color is well rendered and nicely saturated.

    The Audio
    There is a 5.1 English audio track, as well as a 2.0 English, 2.0 Spanish, and 2.0 commentary track. The 5.1 track is very well rendered, giving solid and well defined bass. Gunshots, while not offering up a lot of LFE, are very sharply defined and sound quite impressive. The soundstage is quite active, with ambient sounds present throughout, especially on the Chicago street scenes. Directional effects are frequently present. Dialog is full-bodied, and is offered up with directional cues when the film calls for such effects.

    Extra Features

    Commentary by Director / Writer Brad Mirman and Producer Gary Howsam.
    This is a “by the numbers” commentary. There is nothing by way of special effects to comment on, really (except for some digital correction in a couple of scenes, which is commented on). The commentary is largely anecdotal in nature, with some input by director Mirman on the crafting of specific scenes. Comment is provided on the hiring and the craft of the actors, and on the status of some of the French actors (Hallyday, Renaud) that many Americans would not be aware of. There is also some commentary that explains some of the jokes that require a knowledge of French pop-culture.

    Theatrical Trailer

    Final Thoughts

    Crime Spree is an okay comedy / caper film offered up in two aspect ratios with commentary track and trailer in this new release from Paramount. While the picture could have been a bit sharper, it is very good in all other respects, and the 5.1 audio delivers some nice effects.

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