Mystic River (2003) [Blu-ray]

Genre(s): Crime / Drama / Mystery
Warner Brothers || R - 138 minutes - $28.99 || February 2, 2010
Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2010-02-26


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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

.:: V I D E O ::.
Video

.:: A U D I O ::.
Audio

B L U - R A Y
.:: EXCLUSIVES ::.

Blu-ray Exclusives

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: Clint Eastwood
Writer(s): Dennis Lehane (novel); Brian Helgeland (screenplay)
Cast: Sean Penn, Tim Robbins, Kevin Bacon, Laurence Fishburne, Marcia Gay Harden, Laura Linney


Theatrical Release Date: October 15, 2003


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:
  • Feature Commentary
  • 2 Featurettes
  • 3 Interviews
  • Theatrical Trailers


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Widescreen (2.40)
  • English (DTS-HD MA 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish

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.::THE FILM::.

Plot (from the back cover): Three friends who grew up in working class Boston drift apart after a terrible tragedy. Years later, brutal events reconnect them. Jimmy’s (SEAN PENN) 19-year-old daughter is coldly murdered. Dave (TIM ROBBINS) is a suspect. And Sean (KEVIN BACON), now a cop, scrambles to solve the crime before volatile Jimmy takes the law into his own hands.

Mystic River is based upon the novel by Dennis Lehane, adapted by Brian Helgeland (Man on Fire) and is in my opinion one of Clint Eastwood’s best work behind the camera, yes, I think its right up there with Unforgiven, but a close second still. The film features four fantastic, award-winning, performances from Sean Penn (won Best Actor), Tim Robbins (Best Supporting Actor), the always reliable Kevin Bacon, Marcia Gay Harden (nominated for Best Supporting Actress) and Laura Linney who seems to get lost amongst the others.

The story doesn’t go into graphic details on what happens to one of the characters, Dave, as a kid when he is abducted but the strong hint at sexual abuse is there throughout and in focus with the character as an adult, but it is Tim Robbins’ performance that excels and brings to the forefront of the abuse he received without saying so in so many words. I found that even more so than Sean Penn’s intense and heartbreaking performance that Robbins was the headliner for this great ensemble.

Not to be outdone, the other cast members do their fair share with impressive performances. I already mentioned that Sean Penn is intense playing a grief stricken father willing to do anything to see his daughter’s murderer receive justice but Kevin Bacon, in a less emotional role by comparison with Robbins and Penn, holds his own as well. Then you add in Laura Linney’s ice cold queen-like part as Jimmy’s wife – justifying her husband’s actions – and Marcia Gay Harden kind playing the opposite, more meek wife and you have one of the most impressive cast ensembles of the early 21st century.

But no matter how great the cast is, it’s all worthless without a strong screenplay and direction. As I already said, Brian Helgeland seems to have done an impressive adaptation lifting key elements from the book but making the transition (and translation) to the big screen seamless. Often times, novel-to-book adaptations present plenty of problems especially when it comes to the characters, but Helgeland does an amazing job fleshing each one out.

In the end, the man putting it all together is the one that deserves a large amount of credit for Mystic River’s success on almost all accounts. Clint Eastwood, for all the slack he gets with his sentimental movies like Flags of Our Fathers and Gran Torino (not to mention Million Dollar Baby), but for my money he is one of the best director’s working today only behind Spielberg (though he’s faltered some), James Cameron and maybe Christopher Nolan (personal favorite for obvious reasons).

Overall, Mystic River was one of the best films of 2003 and I dare say one of the better all-around ensemble films of this early 21st century, though I don’t want to overstate it and say it’s a modern classic, but I can see the movie enduring for many years, even with its darker tone.



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

Most of the features have been ported over from the 3-disc special edition, minus the soundtrack, of course.

First up is a dry, though semi-informative, feature commentary with Tim Robbins and Kevin Bacon.

Next up are two featurettes: Mystic River: Beneath the Surface (22:52) and Mystic River: From Page to Screen (11:32) which originally aired as a Bravo TV Special. “Beneath the Surface” is a well laid out making-of in which the cast and crew talk about the various aspects of the film; it goes from the selling of the book to filming. “From Page to Screen” is a little more paint-by-numbers in its presentation and features some of the same interview footage, but now presented in non-anamorphic widescreen.

Last on the disc are three Charlie Rose Show Interviews (1:51:23) with Clint Eastwood, Tom Robbins and Kevin Bacon, the Theatrical Teaser (1:15) and Theatrical Trailer (2:20).



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

Mystic River is presented with a 2.40 aspect ratio and 1080p high-definition (VC-1 codec). Visually, this isn’t a movie that looks fantastic on Blu-ray but with that being said, the picture is pretty clear and well detailed throughout. The tone for the script of course is dark and the color palette reflects this so you’re not going to get a ‘punch’ of colors. I did notice some minor amount of natural film grain especially during the darker scenes but overall it’s a good, if not unremarkable, transfer.

The disc gets a fine 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track. The audio doesn’t have a whole lot of range as this is primarily dialogue driven, so the center channel gets the most use with ambient noise and off-screen dialogue comes through the side speakers, though the score by Clint Eastwood adds a little depth with the rear channels. Outside of that, this track is probably a little smoother than the original Dolby Digital 5.1 track on the DVD, but I’m not sure how much of an improvement it really is.



.::OVERALL::.

Mystic River was one of the best films of 2003 and one of the most well acted ensembles of this early 21st century. Although Sean Penn got the most attention, and indeed it is powerful, I though Tim Robbins’ performance was amazing and heartbreaking. The Blu-ray doesn’t have a whole lot in terms of features even though it does port over most of what the Collector’s Edition (which still sells for $25 new). The audio and video are not remarkable, but probably a minor upgrade over the DVD version.