Havoc (2005) - Unrated Edition
|Genre(s): Drama / Thriller|
|New Line || Unrated - 92 minutes - $19.97 || November 25, 2005|
|Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2005-11-15|
Writer(s): Stephen Gaghan (story) and Jessica Kaplan (story), Stephen Gaghan (screenplay)
Cast: Anne Hathaway, Bijou Phillips, Shiri Appleby, Michael Biehn, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Matt O'Leary, Freddy Rodriguez, Laura San Giacomo, Mike Vogal
Theatrical Release Date: NA
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Havoc tells the story about a group of Palaside teens, bored with their rich-class lifestyle and have adopted speaking and dressing the ways of hip-hop. Allison Lang (Hathaway; The Princess Diaries) lives in the nice Pacific Palisades suburb of Los Angeles, living the nice life but something is missing. When just speaking the way of hip-hop isn't enough for the rich and spoiled teens, Allison, boyfriend Toby (Vogel; The Texas Chainsaw Massacre), best bud Emily (Phillips; Almost Famous) and a few others from their clique (Gordon-Levitt, Appleby) decide to make a trip to East L.A. The group gets mixed up with the 16th Street Gang which turns sour when Allison becomes infatuated with one of their members, Hector (Rodriguez; "Six Feet Under"). For reference, Havoc reminded me much of another serious teen angst movie, Crime + Punishment in Suburbia, which calls into question the lifestyle of the 'burbs.
The performances from main cast members Bijou Phillips, Mike Vogel, Freddy Rodriguez and Anne Hathaway, in particular, were top notch (but don't mistaken that with being Oscar worthy, however). Hathaway previously appeared in Disney's G-rated Princess Diaries and Princess Diaries 2 and makes a great transition to an adult performance (one that I believe the teen boys probably will focus on one aspect...). Is this the ultimate transformation for her career? Probably not. Unlike other actors like Topher Grace who went from "That 70's Show" to a minor role in Traffic to In Good Company, Hathaway will only be remembered for her nude scenes rather than her actual performance which I feel was actually very good.
The direction by Barbara Kopple, while nothing note-worthy, still has some decent style behind it, starting with an opening title sequence featuring an overhead shot of the Palisades with hip-hop music overlayed. Even though the movie is direct-to-DVD, Kopple seems to try to give it something more. Unfortunately neither the directing or acting could overcome a poor story.
The screenplay was written by Oscar winner Stephen Gaghan (Traffic, Syriana) but despite an interesting story on the surface, none of it really gelled together for me. For about 2/3 of the movie, the drama does build up as the teens try to make an identity for themselves by using another culture in doing so. However, what does transpire, while shocking and raw, doesn't seem to have the emotion behind it. It is not until the last 5-minutes or so that Havoc actually became interesting, but just like that, it was over. Although the movie hadn't lived up to much for 85 or so minutes, I would've greatly appreciated some more in expansion to some of the tense moments at the end. I realize it was meant to be left open-ended and perhaps if the first two acts had worked, then the ending would've been more than satisfying, but alas it was not.
Sadly only a theatrical trailer for Havoc and a few others for New Line releases. It would've been nice to have a commentary or some featurette with interviews with the cast and crew about some of the more controversial aspects of the movie.
.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.
The film is presented in widescreen (1.85 aspect ratio) format and in total, looks fine. The picture overall is fairly dark and uses some bluish tints, but it works well in regards to the subject matter. Sound wise, New Line once again does right providing both a standard Dolby Digital 5.1 mix, but the DTS one as well. Of course, my personal preference lies with the DTS mix as it presents a more rounded experience with the hip-hop soundtrack (especially the opening title) and even some of the East L.A. neighborhood surroundings. Now, you won't go wrong with Dolby 5.1, but if have a choice, DTS is the king.
Because this is a direct-to-video release, it's difficult for me to be too tough on this as a DVD. There aren't any special features, but the picture and sound quality are great and the film itself, even with its flaws, might be worth a rental. As I already stated, many will focus, for better or worse, on the sex scenes with Anne Hathaway and Bijou Phillips (which it could be the fault of the producers), but I think there's an interesting story within this movie... It's too bad it didn't come through clearly.