After the Sunset, directed by Brett "The Rat" Ratner, is another entrant in an already long list of cool heist caper flicks – featuring an impressive cast that includes Pierce Brosnan, Selma Hayek, Woody Harrelson, & Don Cheadle. Given the talent on offer here you would think that this would be a sure-fire winner at the box-office. Sadly this was not the case, as it limped in and out of theatrical release with minimal fanfare, and quickly made its way to DVD soon after. So where did it all go wrong? The main culprit here I feel is the common nemesis of heist flicks these days… style over substance.
Pierce Brosnan plays Max Burdett, a typical Hollywood thief with a heart of gold that has since turned straight with his light fingered fiancé Lola (Salma Hayek), after their last big score. They retreat to the Bahamas to live out there life in leisure and spend their fortunes while snoggin’ on a beach all day. Their idyllic life quickly goes pear shaped when it appears that they have made an enemy as a result of their last score – FBI Agent Stan Lloyd played by Woody Harrelson. They made a fool of him after he tried to arrest them, to only lose them during a chase.
It would seem that Stan has since turned a little crooked and has followed Burdett to the Bahamas with the intention of blackmailing Burdett into doing another diamond heist. But this time Stan gets the loot to sell off himself, and then pocket the cash. Max assures him that he has the wrong man for the job and is no longer an active thief, since pledging a life free of crime to the Mrs. from now on.
Enter Don Cheadle's character Henri Mooré, who appears to be the island's local crime boss. He would also like to see Max come out of retirement and steal the rare diamond for himself, to help fund his developments on the island.
As the story unfolds you're not to sure just who really is playing who, as all the characters seem to have their own motives that are not made very clear by the story, and by the time the credits roll you feel a little cheated by the convenient ending that was telegraphed way too early in the film and the superficial nature of the characters and the plot overall. The major fault of the film is that it looks like a really good 93 minute commercial for Club Med whilst bearing some semblance of a heist plot.
Presented in anamorphic video at a ratio of 2.40:1 (16:9 Enhanced), the transfer is a hit & miss affair unfortunately. The main issue here is mpeg artefacts that have arisen due to the movie being squeezed onto one layer of this dual layered disc that is accompanied by multiple audio streams, while the generous amount of extras are slotted on to the other layer. Throughout the feature there were a number of instances when the picture pixellated, that was even noticeable on a small CRT display but proved to be downright hideous on a larger projection display. Small object detail lacked definition also, and aliasing reared its ugly shimmering head a number of times.
As for the audio the main feature is accompanied by a Dolby Digital 5.1 track and a Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround Encoded track. For this review I listened to the 5.1 exclusively. Unlike the video presentation the audio quality is excellent, the audio was retooled for its DVD release to optimise the listening experience in the home. The sound stage is extremely detailed; featuring many directional cues as well some nice split surround usage. The LFE channel was put to good use throughout the feature and didn't draw too much attention to itself. Dialogue was clear at all times, reproduced ably by the centre channel without distortion.
Much to the detriment of the quality of the transfer, a healthy selection of extras are supplied and if you’re a fan of the film you’ll be more than happy with what’s available. First up is a collection of 15 Deleted and Alternate Scenes with Commentary supplied by the Director, Producer, & Editor. All of which are at the same finished quality as the feature with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. Next is an Audio Commentary featuring Director Brett Ratner, Producer Beau Flynn, & Editor Mark Helfrich. This is a reasonable effort; the three guys have a lot to say about the production of the film.
Before, During, and After The Sunset is a lengthy Behind The Scenes piece with a running time of approximately 70 minutes that covers the film from pre-production meetings right up to its theatrical release. As much as the film was a disappointment you get the sense that the actors & crew had a damn good time making it, if only they could have translated this energy to the film the end product might have been better.
There is also a small collection of Outtakes (4:50) that show the actors goofing their lines as well as some showing gags on set. Next up is an Interview (18:24) from the excellent Charlie Rose Show featuring Pierce, Salma, Woody & Brett Ratner. If you have seen Rose’s interviews that have graced themselves on a number of DVD’s already you will no doubt want to check him out here with the cast of After The Sunset. He is one of the best interviewers in the business, and I hope someday we get access to his show here on a regular basis sooner or later.
Another Interview (8:04) which is conducted by Ratner with real life Jewel Thief Bill Mason is as interesting as much as it's an eye opener, due largely to the flippant nature of the interviewee. A small collection Visual Effects Comparisons (3:16) with commentary by the editor, and a group of TV Spots & a Theatrical Trailer round out the extras.
Presented with an ordinary transfer and a generous collection of extras After the Sunset is a hollow experience. Perhaps I’m being a bit too harsh, but I expected so much more. Brett Ratner who has accrued over a billion dollars in box office revenue with his body of work certainly missed the mark here. The picture just didn’t seem to have any life to it and the cast was wasted with a week story and some less than witty dialogue. And if this is an indication of what Perce Brosnan is going to do with his career post-James Bond, I’d be calling MGM and begging for my old job back!