Grosse Pointe Blank Blu-ray Review

Grosse Pointe Blank Blu-ray ReviewIf someone were to ask me to sum up Grosse Pointe Blank in one word, “quirky” wouldn’t be the right one, but it’d be the first one that came to mind.

At its core, Grosse Pointe Blank is a movie about regret, old wounds and second chances. What sets the film apart from its seemingly run of the mill plot is that those ideas are wrapped up in a story about a professional hitman (John Cusack) dealing with “work” related issues and, at the same time, facing down his dreaded ten year class reunion. This is obviously a film with a lot on its plate, yet it balances each element incredibly well.

Martin Blank (Cusack) is the hitman du jour, an average guy that just so happens to kill people for a living. Lately, however, he’s been caught in a funk of depression and disillusionment with his job and his life. He receives an assignment in his old hometown that happens to line up with his 10 year class reunion, and he takes it as a sign. Problem is he disappeared 10 years ago, leaving behind friends, family and Debi (Minnie Driver); the girl of his dreams.

What ensues is a wonderful blend of action, romance and comedy genres that work on all levels. The execution of each is what helps the film stand out so well. It never leans too far to any one style, which keeps it fresh and entertaining. Relationships, friendly and menacing, feel natural and organic. Action scenes come off as not only believable, but exciting. The film’s comedic and sarcastic edge ties the whole package together. The casting, though, is what really seals the deal.

When one thinks of a hired assassin, John Cusack would honestly be pretty far down the list, if on it at all. By giving said assassin such an average guy background allows Cusack to really own the role. Sure, he kills people for money, but he’s still got regular problems and is in the midst of an existential complex, and few people can pull that off sort of self-indifference and sarcasm but still be charming like Cusack can.

Furthering the casting against type is comedy legend Dan Akroyd, who portrays Mr. Grocer, a fellow assassin that thinks Blank is moving in on his turf. The duo has some absolutely hilarious scenes with immediately quotable lines, even with guns anxiously pointed at each other.

Driver somehow pulls off being electric and subdued in her turn as Debi, the girl Blank stood up when he disappeared 10 years ago. She’s the yin to Blank’s yang, and much of the life questions he’s seeking resolutions to rely ultimately on her decisions. There’s an immediate and honest chemistry between the two that helps make the film even more believable, which it has no business being in the first place.

I would also be remiss to not mention the soundtrack. Dear Lord, what an amazing collection of songs this film has.

High-Def Presentation

Grosse Pointe Blank hits Blu-ray with a 1080p MPEG-4 AVC encode, and, in all honesty, it looks rather good. It has obviously been pulled from an older transfer, but there’s little to no damage present and fine bit of grain throughout. While a lot of the color palette is a bit muted, some colors (notably greens and reds) literally pop off the screen. Detail is decent for the most part, but gets a bit lost in dark or nighttime scenes. Overall, Grosse Pointe Blank’s High-Def transfer isn’t going to blow anyone away, but it’s a definite upgrade from the previous DVD edition and does have its moments.

The audio, on the other hand, is rather impressive. First and foremost, Grosse Pointe Blank may just have one of the best movie soundtracks of all time and thanks to the disc’s Dolby HD Master Audio 5.1 track, it’s wonderfully on display and really helps build an immersive experience. Dialogue, for the most part, is clear and centered. There are times were Cusack’s dialogue is a bit low, but I feel that way in almost all of his work. There’s not much in the way of ambient noise so the surrounds don’t get much work, but when any of the action scenes take place, the track really opens up and provides some much needed jolts to the action on screen.

Beyond the Feature

Despite the cover’s headline heralding this being Grosse Pointe Blank’s 15th anniversary, which would lead one to believe there’d be some sort of special features provided, there is sadly just a Theatrical Trailer, and it’s not even in HD. No commentary (which I would love), behind the scenes shots, pictures, interviews from then or now, nothing. For such a gem of a movie that has quite a devoted following, I expected much more.

It’s kind of fascinating just how much is going on in Grosse Pointe Blank and even more impressive that it all works. The mixing of genres, the off the cuff casting, dark humor and larger than life soundtrack all come together to make a beloved cult classic of a film. Cusack, Akroyd and Driver all give stellar performances and fill the movie with a level of believability that it needs or it would completely fall apart. Couple all these things with a definite upgrade in picture and audio quality and you’ve got a release that I highly recommend, even if it does fall short in the extras department.

– Matt Hardeman

Shop for Grosse Pointe Blank on Blu-ray for a discounted price at (August 7, 2012 release date).

Grosse Pointe Blank Blu-ray Review

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