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Texas Killing Fields (BLU-RAY)

Texas Killing Fields

Movie
Studio(s): 
Director(s): 
Genre: 
On Blu-Ray: 
Tuesday, January 31, 2012
Grade:
B-
Running Time: 
105 minutes
Factoid:

This film marks the second pairing of Jessica Chastain with Sam Worthington in two films released during same summer of 2011 period. The first being The Debt.

Inspired By True Events, Texas Killing Fields is the story of two Detectives, Mike Souder (Sam Worthington; Avatar) and Brian Heigh (Jeffrey Dean Morgan; Watchmen), who attempt to capture a sadistic serial killer who kidnaps and mutilates the bodies of the women he kills and dumps them in a part of Texas known as The Killing Fields, an area outside of their jurisdiction. When they decide to go after the killer anyway the killer turns the game around and begins hunting the detectives. Can they find the killer and stop them before his next victim hits home or will the case simply die out and go unsolved. Also stars Chloë Grace Moretz (Kick Ass), Jessica Chastain (The Debt), and Stephen Graham (Boardwalk Empire).

I’m taking it that “Inspired by True Events” means very loosely based on true events. As much as I enjoyed watching this movie for its grittiness and violence I also thought to myself, after it was over, that the film played kind of like L.A. Confidential, trading a hooker with a heart of gold for a little girl who finds herself in trouble but cared for by one of the characters. Sam Worthington plays Russell Crowe; short tempered, violent, not a whole lot in the social skills department. Jeffrey Dean Morgan plays the Guy Pearce character, kind of out of his element (his character is a transfer from New York to Texas), a calm type looking to do things neat and by the book while also overachieving. Both of them start hitting up the prostitution racket looking for some answers. Moretz character is the daughter of a hooker. The climatic ending is also kind of similar. I’m just thinking maybe director Ami Canaan Mann (daughter of Michael Mann; Heat, Public Enemies) may have borrowed a bit of the core plotline there and mixed it up a little.  

What’s intriguing about Texas Killing Fields is that it’s a movie where some horrible atrocity has occurred and instead of the film following a police procedural line, the two main characters tackle it with fists and anger, exactly how most of us envision the face of true justice and the process of getting things done. Everything else outside of the spectrum of primal entertainment is pretty black and white and routine when it comes to the overall story. Plot devices are predictable, character suspect’s cliché, and chances are you’ve already solved the case long before the movie ends.

For a Blu-Ray release I wasn’t very impressed with the picture quality. Lots of soft shots, grain, color schemes losing focus and potency in favor of a rustic hot and dry look that I assume is meant to represent the atmosphere of Texas. Black levels do a surprisingly coherent job in night scenes which has me scratching my head about the grain issue during most of the daylight interior and exterior scenes. Sharpness and definition also come close but fail to reach the level I usually look for in my BD purchases. It really could have been better.

Audio is in the same boat as picture quality. It’s almost there, but not quite. Some of the dialogue sounds a bit hollow and metallic, gunshots as well. Atmospherically the audio does a good job providing decent surround sound capabilities during rain and some more action oriented sequences but I can’t help but feel like it’s a complacent delivery from Anchor Bay. To top it off the only bonus feature on the disc is Director Commentary and Writer Commentary. I’d rather have had a short (or extensive) documentary on just what inspired this film and how close it comes to the event. Worth a rental at best or a bargain bin purchase. As always, final judgment is yours. Enjoy.   
 

AJ Garcia
Review by AJ Garcia
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