American Heist Blu-ray Review
Hayden Christensen’s name is like salt in the wound of STAR WARS fans every time it comes up. He will always be remembered for his lackluster performance as Anakin Skywalker and the wooden acting as he delivered the horrendous George Lucas dialogue. When I see Christensen’s name, I like to remember him for his role in SHATTERED GLASS, a movie that ironically came out during the STAR WARS prequels fiasco. His solid performance in SHATTERED GLASS will be forever lost, buried under mounds of visceral nerd anger. AMERICAN HEIST is just shovel-full mound of dirt to pile on that once proud performance by the actor.
On the other hand, Adrien Brody, an Oscar winning actor, appears to be in AMERICAN HEIST for a quick paycheck. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing since Adrien Brody has shown a unique versatility with his roles. It also helps that his name has not been attached to the degrading of a cherished franchise. If anything, his work in PREDATORS was a welcome sight after the miserable ALIEN VS. PREDATOR offerings. So you could almost say that the general opinion of either can be very biased amongst a certain viewer.
These two stars play brothers in AMERICAN HEIST. Brody plays Frankie who is just getting out of jail while Christensen plays James, a car mechanic that once had his own problems with the law. While James is looking to make something of his life, Frankie is ready to get back into his old life. Nothing in either of these two men’s lives would seem to imply that they’re ready, willing, and intelligent enough to pull off a bank robbery. They may just be gullible enough to believe that they can.
Frankie isn’t the one planning it though. He comes across a group of men, readily armed with assault rifles, who apparently have already mapped out the heist. The actual heist itself doesn’t happen until the last third of the movie, and the anticipated scenes of planning, plotting, and Frankie inevitably convincing his brother to participate, don’t exist. Instead there are all these weird moments of exposition that highlight Frankie’s time in prison, the brothers’ childhood, and a meaningless love triangle involving a police dispatcher.
When the heist finally does happen, it’s clear that maybe there wasn’t any planning to begin with. These men they’ve decided to team up with are cold blooded killers who seemingly want money and don’t care how they get it or how many people have to die. The alleged warmth and depth of the brothers we’re being shown throughout the movie doesn’t match up with the intentions of their cohorts as they shoot at police and use hostages as armor. While being thematically confusing, it manages to be predictable in its storytelling. The multiple reveals and the ending are lacking in originality and feel lazy.
If I had gone to a movie theater, paid for a ticket, and entered the theater to watch this movie, I can without a doubt say that I would have wanted my money back. I’ve never walked out of a movie halfway through, but AMERICAN HEIST may have been the exception if I had been asked to watch this. Even with its short run time, it seems unnecessarily long, but that’s only because it’s so dry. Christensen, you may want to consider a bold new direction to rejuvenate your career. While you do that, Brody can mull over what he should spend his paycheck on.
Video: (1080p Widescreen 2:39:1) A sharp and clear blu-ray. It’s just too bad that it’s wasted on such a dreary looking film.
Audio: (English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1) The audio on this is balanced well without any noticeable problems.
Creating a Complex Caper: Pulling Off AMERICAN HEIST (25:57): A behind the scenes look at the film, mainly talking with Christensen as well as a couple of the producers. Brody, is sparsely used, or he didn’t want to fake enthusiasm for this film too much. One thing about this that’s interesting is that the director of the film does not speak English. It would lead one to believe that there may have been a lack of reliable communication to create a cohesive film with everyone involved.