Studio: New Line
Film Length: 136 minutes
Aspect Ratio: Anamorphic Widescreen (1.85:1)
Audio: DD 5.1 Surround, DTS 6.1, DD Stereo Surround
Former New Orleans detective Dave Robicheaux is forced into retirement after accidentally killing three people. While all of this was going on Dave was also suffering from an alcohol problem, which nearly cost him his life. Two years after retirement he and his wife Annie (Kelly Lynch) move to the Bayou where they open up a bait shop and seem to be living the perfect life. One day while the couple are out on the Bayou a plane crashes nearby their boat. Dave grabs the scuba gear and goes to the sunken plane where he saves a young Mexican girl.
Dave and Annie take the young girl to the hospital where they tell the officials that the child is there’s and she was in a simple boating accident. The couple takes the young girl back to their place where they plan on raising her but one day Dave gets a visit from DEA officer. The officer informs Dave that the plane crash wasn’t an accident but a murder plot, which Dave has messed up. For some unknown reason he goes to visit a former friend turned stripper (Mary Stuart Masterson) who in return leads him to another former friend turned gangster Bubba Rocque (Eric Roberts). Dave is also introduced to Bubba’s former prostitute wife (Teri Hatcher) who seems to have plans outside of her husband’s affairs. Not only this but we get another mob boss and three hit men all involved in this mystery, which must be solves by Dave so he can keep the child he rescued.
Heaven’s Prisoners is based on the novel by James Lee Burke and while I haven’t read this I’ve heard it’s a lot better than the actual movie. The film is an interesting mis-fire, which is so incredibly stupid that one will want to stick through the whole thing just to see how much dumber things can get. The plot is full of so many wholes it’s really hard to know what the director or screenwriters were going for. At first it appears to be a political thriller and then we get a Charles Bronson wannabe side plot, which just adds to all the confusion. I mentioned a few of the characters involved in all of this but there are actually more that pop in and out of the movie.
I knew the film was in a lot of trouble within the first ten minutes. After the plane crashes the couple leaves the accident with the child. Within minutes they are at the hospital where they tell everyone that this child is their daughter, although the kid doesn’t speak a bit of English. The people in charge are stupid enough to buy all these excuses thrown at them but what I don’t understand is why this couple would just take this girl. Perhaps had the screenplay shown them talking about it they could have convinced me but this doesn’t happen. We go from a plane crash to them taking the child for no reason, which just leads to more mindless subplots.
Alec Baldwin is an actor I’ve always enjoyed watching but this here has got to be the worst job in his career. This wannabe character drama is so badly acted by Baldwin that you can’t help but laugh when the film is trying to make you feel sorry for him. We get a lot of scenes of him crying but It’s so badly done we can’t help but laugh. The tough guy cop attitude that Baldwin brings is also very laughable. Worst of all is that incredibly bad Southern accent, which goes in and out throughout the film. Eric Roberts gives a wonderful performance however and he’s one of the few reasons to actually sit through this film. Teri Hatcher got a Razzie nomination for Worst Actress and I’m rather shocked she didn’t win. Bad acting aside, her infamous full frontal nude scene is worth the price of a rental.
Heaven’s Prisoners is a very bad movie yet it thankfully gets laughable, which makes it easier to watch. Running over two hours the film certainly could have used some editing or a longer running time. There’s just so many plot holes that I can’t help but think the screenplay lost a few pages and the director simply forgot to film the scenes. Imagine reading a book yet only reading every other chapter. By the time you read the end of the book you’ll have many unanswered questions and that’s how the movie made me feel.
VIDEO---The movie is shown widescreen (1.85:1) and is enhanced for 16x9 TVs. Overall the picture quality is very good, although there’s some minor EE but this never becomes distracting. Most of the EE is visible during the opening five minutes and after that thinks pretty much clear up. The colors are very strong and full of detail without any scratches or speckles on the print. The green colors of the Bayou look very natural and puts you right there in the scene. The darker scenes are a tad bit soft but no dirt or other problem occur.
AUDIO---We get a Dolby Digital 5.1 track as well as a DTS 6.1 track. There’s very little difference between the two so either one will be fine for your listening pleasure. The only real difference I could tell is during several thunderstorms that happen throughout the film. The sound of the rain hitting the ground is certainly a lot clearer and the thunder has a bit more of a crisp sound. Both tracks and very good with strong, upfront dialogue and the surrounds are perfectly used during all the action scenes.
EXTRAS---You get the film’s theatrical trailer as the only extra.
OVERALL---This film tries hard to be smart but due to all the plot holes the viewer will be laughing instead of anything else. The film is infamous for the nude scene by Teri Hatcher so some might want to check that out but be sure to have the remote handing to fast forward through everything else. Fans of Eric Roberts will find him very good but the rest just doesn’t work. New Line has delivered another wonderful disc with a razor sharp transfer and nice DD and DTS tracks.
Release Date: October 7, 2003