• Pawn



    Released by: Anchor Bay
    Released on: 4/23/2013
    Director: David Armstrong
    Cast: Sean Faras, Michael Chiklis, Ray Liotta, Forrest Whitaker, Common, Nikki Reed
    Year: 2013
    Purchase from Amazon

    The Movie:

    A small diner in some Connecticut city is the scene of a different sort of robbery. Three men have entered the establishment, armed and with purpose and want more than just the watches and wallets of the customers. Inside the diner is a safe and inside that safe is something the crooked cops don’t want getting into the wrong hands. As in the hands of the FBI. It seems a hard drive is locked up in the diner that has the names of said crooked cops and evidence to put them away, information that acts as a safety blanket for the local crime boss.

    Three British baddies (Michael Chiklis being one of them), a car-stealing punk who just got out of the slammer that day (Sean Faris), the diner owner (Stephen Lang), a beat cop (Forest Whitaker), and about a dozen patrons are on the inside, held seige by the army of cops on the outside. A crooked cop (Marton Csokas), a hostage negotiator (rapper-turned-actor Common), and Ray Liotta do what they have too outside of the diner walls, each with a different agenda. And so, as the title suggests, they’re all pawns, every character, in a crime story with lots of little twists and turns.

    Told through a series of flash backs and alternate views of how the robbery went down, the story pretty much follows Chiklis’ and Faras’ characters, providing some “12 hours ago”-type side steps to set things up. Every time a flashback happens, new information comes to light that deepens the story and puts something out there to make the viewer go “hmmm…” and in just the right moments. While not exactly an action movie, enough action happens throughout the mostly indoor movie to keep the interest level at a decent place. Just when the movie starts to slow a little, things pick right back up. As a result the film moves along quite nicely, filling up about 80 minutes if you take out the crappy credits (and they are crappy…).

    From an acting angle, this is one of those ensemble cast pieces which limits the amount of screen time for everyone, and in some cases that’s a good thing. Chiklis is the standout, and carries his role well, even with the fake accent. You never like the guy, he makes no apologies for the crap he does in the diner, but you can’t help but wonder how he’s going to get out of his mess. Speaking of mess, Sean Faras has too much screen time. His scenes take up the most of it too, as it’s really a story about his character and his attempt to stay out of trouble and maintain his marriage to his expecting wife. He’s better when Chiklis is in the scene with him, but otherwise he’s just…meh. Although next to the guy who plays his brother he’s Oliver Reed. Liotta and Whitaker is their usual caliber, but are not used a whole lot.

    Pawn is a tight little crime drama that keeps it interesting and provides the viewer with the opportunity to think rather than fill the viewers eyes with explosions and fast-edit fights. It relies more on the story telling than the story showing. It’s worth a look, at least once, even if the ending does kind of stink.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    Anchor Bay delivers a nice-looking Blu-ray to the masses, with a 1080p HD image in an aspect of 2.40:1. Clarity is pleasing, as is the detail, revealing plenty of textures. Skin tones look correct and do the colors, although there’s not much by way of vibrant colors. Being a movie that takes place at night and inside a diner, it makes sense that things look a bit drab. It’s a nice picture overall and no defects were noticed.

    The sound chores are handled by a 5.1 TrueHD Dolby track, which seems to do its job fine. Not a whole lot of activity in the rear speakers though. Lots of talking and it all comes from the front. The music gets loud at times and is actually detracts a bit from the enjoyment level. Its too “cinematic” sounding and because it gets loud it gets annoying. But otherwise the track is fine and there’s nothing more to say about it.

    Extras are limited to a 20+ minute “making of” that is a typical one. Its nothing new by way of format, and if you liked the movie you’ll probably like this featurette. Will you live the rest of your life wishing you’d watched it if you don’t? Nope.

    The Final Word:

    It’s worth a shot. Short running time, some good character acting, a decent story laid out in an interesting manner. Nothing that will keep you on the edge of your seat, but certainly one that won’t put you to sleep.