Blu Ray Review: Brake (2012)

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MSRP 29.98
RATED Not Rated
• Making of Brake
• Music Video
• Trailer

The Pitch

Secret Service agent Jeremy Reins wakes up trapped in a plastic box in the trunk of a car, left with nothing by a CB radio and an ominous digital timer. Each time the clock hits zero, Jeremy faces a new round of physical and psychological torture from his captors – terrorists who want to know where the presidential emergency bunker is and will stop at nothing to find out. Nearly helpless to the chaos of the terror plot unfolding outside the car, Jeremy must rely on his resolve and limited resources to survive. And before the clock runs out for the last time, he must decide exactly how much he’s willing to sacrifice in order to save his country . A rapidly-twisting, claustrophobic thriller, Brake will leave you gasping until the final frame.

The Humans

Gabe Torres (director), Stephen Dorff, Chyler Leigh, JR Bourne, Tom Berenger

The Nutshell

Ryan Reynold’s Buried, in the trunk of a car with a little Jack Bauer and Saw thrown in, to make an extremely entertaining but severely flawed 90 minutes.

The Lowdown

If they ever make a follow up for 24, I vote for using Stephen Dorff as the Jack Bauer clone. More than once while watching Brake that crossed my mind. Dorff’s Jeremy Reins is a Bauer-esque secret service agent that spends the majority of this film in a trunk.

Can you hear me? How about now?

The idea has been executed before and has received accolades most the time someone can use the concept and make it entertaining. First it was Phone Booth which arguably propelled Colin Farrell onto the lips of half the executives in Hollywood (others may cite Tigerland) and helped re-establish Bauer himself into A-list material (24 was halfway through its first season). The next time I remember hearing about this cheap but claustrophobic concept was with Ryan Reynolds in Buried. I believe that is the best example of acting Reynolds has ever had, but overall just a dismal movie.

Brake stands out more than Buried and maybe less than Phone Booth, but it does so because of the dynamic situation of being in a moving car instead of stuck underground. Dorff must be a small guy though, because I cannot think of a single car wide enough to comfortably fit my 6’2” length. He does a good job of displaying the inconvenience of shifting sides for different reasons and sells the claustrophobic space.

When I think of high tech thrillers, I think of CBs from1977.

The deadly red digital numbers kept the movie furiously paced, and made sure to keep you guessing as to what would happen when the counter hit zero. It did a nice job of conveying the limited time Dorff had and made sure the audience is involved with every count down.

The main issues with Brake are very hard to discuss, as most of them involve the ending and I hate getting into spoiler territory. The ending tries to be slick by adding some final twists, some of which worked and some of which didn’t. One in particular creates a huge gap in logic and reasoning large enough to be compared to Haute Tension, and to me that is not a good thing. I found the bad twist to be at least better than the Aja film, as I can live with the ending, but I still think it wasn’t right to do, and that it ruins some of the good will that was there. Nix that 2 minutes of time, and the movie plays 1000 times better.

Just because it all take place in a trunk, it doesn’t mean there cannot be lightin changes.

The director and his crew really do wonders with the confined space and the imagery to go with it. The trunk is noticeable, and there is enough light to keep it watchable (and justified most the time by just the red lights from the digital timer). There isn’t much to do on composition with such limited space, but it always kept the pace moving and the limited space felt extremely confined.

Overall, Brake is worthy of a watch, and is one of the better domestic limited release thrillers this year. While it didn’t get the buzz Buried did, it felt it was more deserving of that buzz than the predecessor. It is definitely more entertaining even though the ending ruins a lot of what it built so well.

The Package

There are a minimal amount of special features included, nowhere near a Criterion release, but all good enough. There is a making of featurette, a music video by composer Brian Tyler and the trailer for the movie.

The little red devil!


Out of a Possible 5 Stars

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