The Hit List (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)
May 12, 2011 by Dennis Amith
The creepiest and most villainous role ever played by Cuba Gooding Jr.! Despite the barebones Blu-ray release, “The Hit List” was a pretty exciting popcorn action film and audiophiles will definitely enjoy how this film sounds on Blu-ray!
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TITLE: The Hit List
FILM RELEASE DATE: 2011
DURATION: 90 Minutes
BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (1:78:1), English, French 5.1 DTS-HD MA, Subtitles: English, English SDH, French and Spanish
COMPANY: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
RATED: R (For Violence and Language)
RELEASE DATE: May 10, 2011
Directed by William Kaufman
Written by Chad Law, Evan Law
Produced by Freddy Braidy, Richard Salvatore
Executive Producer: Rui Costa Reis, Rich Cowan, Eliad Josephson, Johnny Martin, David E. Ornston
Supervising Producer: Juan A. Mas
Music by Deane Ogden
Cinematography by Mark Rutledge
Edited by Patrick McMahon, Jason A. Payne
Casting by Nike Imoru, Lisa London, Catherine Stroud
Production Design by Vincent DeFelice
Set Decoration by Dan Beyer
Costume Design by Lisa Caryl
Cuba Gooding Jr. as Jonas Arbor
Cole Hauser as Allan Campbell
Jonathan LaPaglia as Detective Neil McKay
Ginny Weirick as Sydney Campbell
Drew Waters as Mike Dodd
Sean Cook as Brian Felzner
Michael Papajohn as Special Agent Drake Ford
J.P. O’Shaughnessy as Lt. Ben Harp
David Andriole as Det. Ray Lowery
Brandon O’Neill as Dom Estacado
Daniel Brockley as Drew McAllister
Ever wish you had the chance to get back at the boss who undermined you…the spouse who cheated on you…or the friend who deceived you? One night, a down-on-his-luck businessman, Allan Campbell (Cole Hauser), meets a mysterious stranger, Jonas Arbor (Cuba Gooding Jr.), who claims to be a professional hit man. Jonas offers to take out five targets, free of charge. Thinking it’s a bad joke, Allan jots down his own private hit list. The next day, the people he named start turning up dead, and all the evidence points to Allan. Hunted by the police and haunted by guilt, Allan races against time to stop the murders he set in motion. In this world, vengeance always has a price.
From the brothers who wrote “Hero Wanted”, Chad and Evan Law are back with another film titled “The Hit List”, their second film collaboration with actor Cuba Gooding Jr. (“Jerry Maguire”, “Pearl Harbor”, “Men of Honor”) and directed by William Kaufman (“The Prodigy”, “Sinners and Saints” and “The Hit List”).
With a budget of $6 million, this psychological direct-to-video action film will be released on Blu-ray and DVD in May 2011.
“The Hit List” revolves around Allan Campbell (played by Cole Hauser, “Good Will Hunting”, “Pitch Black”, “2 Fast 2 Furious”), a corporate employee who has worked hard for his promotion. Sporting a black eye because he has not paid a person he owes money too, he receives a call about the money and reminds the person that once he gets the promotion, he will take care of it.
But unfortunately, the promotion went to his rival Brian Felzner (played by Sean Cook), someone who took Allan’s ideas.
Upset about losing the promotion, Allan heads home to his wife Sydney (played by Ginny Weirick). But what he doesn’t know is that Sydney and his best friend Mike (played by Drew Waters) are having an affair and on his bed, about to make love.
When Allan gets back home, he sees his wife upset with him and then he sees Mike coming out of the bedroom buttoning his shirt and then leaving.
Sydney tells Allan that ever since he became focused on his work, he has been distant and has literally left her behind and purposely wanted him to see her and Mike together.
Hurt by what has happened at home and the workplace, Allan goes to the bar to get drunk. On television, at the bar, is news about a controversial talk show host who was gunned down. Allan tries to make small talk to the only guy at the bar, a man named Jonas (played by Cuba Gooding Jr.).
Allan explains all the bad things that has come to his life and Jonas tries to put it in perspective that it’s because Allan is weak, people take advantage of him. And that he needs a friend who will tell him the truth. Jonas tells Allan that he is a friend and then tells him that he’s the guy who shot the talk show host.
When Allan hears this, he doesn’t believe it. Jonas then tells him about his job as hit man and so Allan plays along, thinking Jonas is messing around. Jonas tells him to write five names on the piece of paper of the people he wants dead.
Allan still thinks Jonas is joking around so he writes his boss as #5, his work rival Felzner at #4, the man who gave him a black eye because Allan hasn’t paid him his money at #3, his best friend Mike Dodd (for having an affair with his wife) at #2 and his wife Sydney at #1 (for having an affair).
Jonas tells him that he will kill the person starting at #5 and work his way up the list. Allan still thinks he’s joking and when he goes to the bathroom, upon returning back to the table, Jonas is gone.
We then see Jonas at the home of Allan’s boss and Jonas shooting several rounds at him and killing him.
The next morning, Allan wakes up after sleeping in his car after getting drunk at the bar. Late for work, when he arrives, Allan is told that their boss has been killed. Immediately Allan starts thinking about the hit list he wrote down and gave to Jonas. Could this guy be real? If it is, that means Brian Felzner is next.
Allan rushes out to prevent Brian Felzner from getting killed and when Allan gets to his car, waiting for him is Jonas. Allan tells Jonas that he has to stop and that he thought all this time, what Jonas was saying was a joke. But Jonas tells him that its not a joke and that as a friend, he is helping Allan out. And he can’t stop the hit list at all. The only way it can be stopped is if Allan stops him (kills him) but Allan is not a killer.
Jonas leaves and goes after Brian Felzner, as does Allan who tries to prevent it from happening.
With four names left on the hit list, can Allan stop Jonas from killing them?
“The Hit List” is presented 1080p High Definition (1:78:1 aspect ratio). The good news is that “The Hit List” was shot digitally and it’s a very clean print with no speckles or spotting. The detail is clear as you can see the various threading on Jonas’ gray suit, you can see the skin textures quite clearly especially the skin detail. Colors are natural and blacks are nice and deep. I did notice some banding but for the most part, I felt “The Hit Man” looked good.
Picture quality is clean and natural!
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
“The Hit List” is treated with an English and French 5.1 DTS-HD MA lossless soundtrack. And I can tell you right now that the lossless soundtrack for “The Hit List” is awesome! For one, there is a chase scene, several explosive scenes and a lot of gunfire. There is good use of the surround channels for the exchange of gun fire, the bending of metal during the car accidents but most of all, you can expect to hear some nice, groundshaking LFE as there is some deep moments where the audio surprised me.
I was quite impressed by the lossless soundtrack and how much gunfire was in this film. For a direct-to-video film, the lossless soundtrack for “The Hit List” really shines for this Blu-ray release!
Subtitles are presented in English, English SDH, Spanish and French.
In possibly a blow to this Blu-ray release is the lack of any special features. It’s BD-Live enabled but this film could have had audio commentary, featurettes on Gooding Jr. playing a villain, the firearms of the film and more. But there are no special features and I found that to be disappointing!
What a surprise! “The Hit List” was an exciting film and this is probably one of the best roles I have seen Cuba Gooding Jr. play in a long time. Gooding Jr. as the villain and creepy Jonas was quite intriguing but what was the most surprising is how much action, firearms, explosions were incorporated into this film. Other similar direct-to-video films tend to find cost-cutting areas for these independently funded films and you lose things in the process.
So, I was quite pleased with the amount of action there was in this film. And if there was one thing that came to my mind when watching “The Hit List” was the original “The Terminator” film when a whole police precinct becomes a battleground. And in this case, the number of law enforcement casualties in this film was surprising.
But there is no doubt that “The Hit List” is a psychological popcorn action film. There are going to be a lot of dead people and the film tries to show the viewer of how bad ass the character Jonas Arbor truly is. And Cuba Gooding Jr. does a fantastic job bringing this killer onscreen.
Cole Hauser also does a good job of playing Allan, in his words, “the human punching-bag”. Hauser and Gooding Jr. do a good job playing off from one another and for the most part, the Law Brothers did a good job in capturing the verbal and emotional exchange between both characters.
Once again, I emphasize that this is a popcorn action film. One man taking on a whole police force in a gun battle, it worked well with “The Terminator” because the robot was nearly invincible, as opposed to Jonas who happened to have every major firearm and weapon at his disposal. It is farfetched but I suppose that a lot of popcorn action films are and what people tend to care about these days are high body counts and a lot of action.
As for the Blu-ray release, the lossless audio is the Blu-ray’s high-point. But as a barebones release, it’s hard to recommend a Blu-ray that really doesn’t come with much of anything. Even compared to other direct-to-video films that were released in the last six months from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, they came with special features…this one doesn’t. And that was a bit disappointing.
But for anyone wanting to watch a pretty intense and entertaining popcorn action film, “The Hit List” is one of the better ones of 2001. It’s barebones release may not make this a priority must-get Blu-ray release but it is worth the rental and worth checking out.
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