You can’t keep a good crook down, or at least that’s what the title character in Richard Shepard’s Dom Hemingway would like to think. Loud, brash, egotistical to a fault: Dom Hemingway is one of those fated characters who are the masters of their own misery and yet don’t want to own up to it. The film containing this larger than life character has bits of droll wit, some stylish touches, and some terrific performances, but the second half of the film is poorly written (by its director) leaving lots of dangling threads that, in the criminal world which Dom inhabits, wouldn’t be left dangling for long.
Distributed By: N/A
Video Resolution and Encode: 1080P/AVC
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HDMA, Spanish 5.1 DD, French 5.1 DTS
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French
Run Time: 1 Hr. 33 Min.
Package Includes: Blu-ray, Digital Copykeep case in a slipcover
Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)
Release Date: 07/22/2014
Released from prison after twelve long years, career criminal Dom Hemingway (Jude Law) expects the criminal mastermind for whom he covered all that time – Ivan Fontaine (Demian Bichir) – to reward him royally for not breaking any confidences. Fontaine does indeed come through with a £750,000 payment, but on the night of their celebration party, Dom wrecks the car carrying the boss, his girl friend Paolina (Madalina Ghenea), and Dom’s best friend Dickie (Richard E. Grant) killing Fontaine and allowing Paolina to abscond with his money while he’s unconscious. Bitter over losing his fortune, Dom continues to have bad luck with his bitter daughter Evelyn (Emilia Clarke) who’s angry her father wasn’t ever there for her growing up. A potential outlet for jobs through another mobster contact (Jumayn Hunter) might lead to sunnier skies for the eternal bad boy, but he can’t keep from making wrong decisions that continually cut off potential paydays for himself.
The Production Rating: 3/5
Writer-director Richard Shepard keeps the string of bad luck for Dom playing out for the film’s entire ninety minutes, and while it’s obvious his creator loves his bad boy character, Dom makes it very difficult for a viewer to drum up much sympathy for his plight since he continually drinks and drugs enough to always destroy any good fortune which happens to come his way. We’re introduced to this angry young man in a scintillating monologue celebrating his penis, and there are few moments anywhere in the film’s remaining running time where Dom reins in his foul-mouthed tongue (at one such time when he does muster some self-control, he’s very likable making it clear why the underworld characters chose him for so much work in his pre-prison days). Shepard’s dialogue is at its crispest during conversations between Dom and best friend Dickie who lets Dom have his head but doesn’t let him get away with much, but Shepard’s creativity wanes in the film’s second half when his encounter with an old nemesis offering the chance for work is insufficiently resolved. One never quite understands why Dom accepts the loss of his money so cavalierly (though that, too, gets attended to quite by accident – more poor writing – near the film’s conclusion), and the scenes involving failed reconnections with his only remaining family show the softer side of the character trying to grow up and pretty much failing. Shepard directs the big car accident sequence in a stylish, stylized fashion that puts the brutality into the audience’s imaginations rather than portraying it on screen in all its gory brutishness.
Jude Law has packed on the muscle to portray this hard-edged character, and his years as one of the prettiest of British actors seem far in the past as he attacks this down and dirty character with vicious bravado and representing by far the film’s main claim to fame. Richard E. Grant makes a dry, almost quaint criminal companion to the hyper-aggressive Dom, and Demian Bichir as his criminal master scores points by cleverly underplaying his menace making him seem all the more dangerous and unpredictable. Jumayn Hunter as a hood with something of a grudge against Dom (in one of the film’s only successful running gags) is entertaining, too, as is Emilia Clarke as the forgotten daughter refusing at first to give way to her father’s pleas for forgiveness. Madalina Ghenea is more model than actress as Paolina, and Kerry Condon as Melody, the only other female of importance in Dom’s life, seems to have floated in from some Disney movie.
The film’s theatrical 2.35:1 aspect ratio is faithfully rendered in this 1080p transfer using the AVC codec. Sharpness is generally excellent, and color is rich and deep particularly the reds (there are a lot of them) which occasionally seem a bit too hot. Contrast has been dialed in to perfection, and skin tones are genuinely lifelike. Black levels are likewise outstanding. The film has been divided into 28 chapters.
Video Rating: 4.5/5 3D Rating: NA
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound mix skimps a bit on the surround envelopment with the great majority of the sound activity occurring in the front soundstage. Rolfe Kent’s score along with some rock tunes do get surround treatment in the fronts and rears, but there isn’t much use of the soundfield in the sound effects involving speeding cars and trains in and around London and the continent. Dialogue has been well recorded and has been placed in the center channel.
Audio Rating: 4/5
Audio Commentary: writer-director Richard Shepard shares anecdotes on the making of the film in a chatty commentary track.
Special Features Rating: 3/5
Promo Featurettes (HD): four very brief EPK featurettes featuring director Richard Shepard, stars Jude Law, Demian Bichir, Emilia Clarke, Madalina Ghenea, and Jumayn Hunter, and production designer Laurence Dorman describing various aspects of the production process along with many clips from the film. They are “Who is Dom Hemingway?” (2:46), “The Story” (2:39), “The Look of Dom Hemingway (3:26), and “Conversations with the Cast and Director” (4:44).
Ping Pong Loop (30:30, HD): a bare-breasted woman plays ping pong with herself in this clip used as background during the safe-cracking sequence in the film.
Stills Gallery: five dozen color stills, star portraits, and behind-the-scenes shots can be flipped through manually or automatically.
Theatrical Trailer (2:17, HD)
Promo Trailers (HD): Belle, 3 Days to Kill, others.
Digital Copy: code sheet enclosed.
An erratic if still interesting character study of a London tough being brought in line by advancing years and his desire for a loving family, Dom Hemingway has some laughs and surprises in store for those curious enough to try it. The Blu-ray release features outstanding picture and more than above average sound to make it a pleasurable entertainment experience for those interested in this offbeat project.
Overall Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewed By: Matt Hough
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