Pawn Blu-ray Review

As long as there are thieves, they’ll need somewhere to steal from. That location in PAWN is a local diner, where the group’s leader, Derrick (Michael Chiklis, Emmy and Golden Globe winner for FX’s THE SHIELD), plans to empty the safe of its contents. The bad news for the robbers is that the safe is on a time lock until midnight and so they have to wait it out.


From there, the movie takes a fairly nonlinear approach, flashing backward and forward to bulk up the storyline and introduce the main characters who will unwittingly become entangled in the robbery. There’s police officer Will (Forest Whitaker, THE LAST KING OF SCOTLAND), who just stops in for a cup of coffee; recent parolee Nick (Sean Faris, NEVER BACK DOWN), with his pregnant girlfriend (Nikki Reed, THE TWILIGHT SAGA); Will’s partner Barnes (Marton Csokas, ROMULUS, MY FATHER); negotiator Jeff (rapper Common); owner Charlie (Stephen Lang, AVATAR); waitress Bonnie (Jessica Szohr, nominated for something called the Best Scared-as-Shit Performance at the 2011 MTV Movie Awards for her turn in PIRANHA) and Man in the Suit (Ray Liotta, GOODFELLAS).


Why a diner? Why not, say, a bank, which has more bills than ketchup bottles? Well, that’s all revealed as the movie quickly moves along its 88-minute runtime, as are the identities of the rats, moles and wrongly accused—all staples of robbery-in-progress movies. Along with the expected abundance of pointed guns, random “f-words” (to make the baddies sound extra tough) and one-dimensional character arcs, it’s clear that screenwriter Jay Anthony White (2006’s PROJECT 313) has little interest in avoiding genre clichés.


PAWN is the directorial debut of David A. Armstrong, who served as director of photographer on all but one SAW movie and won a Student Academy Award in 1999. His efforts won’t put him anywhere near the forefront of the action/thriller game, but he does show a certain amount of promise by keeping all of the storylines and characters—however stale they may be—in order.


The major draw of PAWN is the cast, with a series of names and faces that look good (or at least intimidating) on a poster. But their talents are wasted: Whitaker’s best line delivery centers on his ordering coffee; Liotta again phones it in as a routine tough guy, making him just a few more wrong turns from being on the level of Michael Madsen; Chiklis (who also serves as producer) dons an ill-advised British accent that is both distracting and confusing.

Those three men are likely how PAWN got financed. They may also be the reason it went direct to video.


Video: 2.40:1 in 1080p with MPEG-4 AVC codec. PAWN has an overall clean picture, although some of the nighttime exterior scenes look fairly mucky and lack strong detail.

Audio: English Dolby TrueHD 5.1; Dolby Digital 5.1. Subtitles in English and Spanish. The audio is quite good, with clear dialogue, strong sound effects and a bassy score.

PAWN: Behind the Scenes (23:09): This making-of featurette offers clips, on-set footage and interviews with much of the primary cast/crew to give an overview of the production of PAWN.

Also included is a DVD Copy of PAWN.


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