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Artisan Home Entertainment presents
The Final Hit (2000)

"I could tell you some great stories..."
- Sonny Wexler (Burt Reynolds)

Review By: Joel Cunningham   
Published: November 14, 2002

Stars: Burt Reynolds, Lauren Holly, Benjamin Bratt
Other Stars: Sean Astin, Charles DurningGreg Germann, Ann Margret, Rod Steiger
Director: Burt Reynolds

MPAA Rating: R for strong language
Run Time: 01h:29m:08s
Release Date: June 18, 2002
UPC: 012236127680
Genre: comedy

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
C- D+C-B- D-

DVD Review

The back of the box bills The Final Hit as "The Player meets Get Shorty," but I can't imagine anyone actually making that comparison with a straight face. For one thing, both of those films were intelligent jabs at the politics of Hollywood, particularly the former, a tongue-in-cheek expose of an amoral industry. And while I'm sure it's technically true—The Final Hit does involve money on loan from the mob (like Get Shorty), and it is about getting a movie made in Hollywood (like The Player)—that doesn't warrant mentioning those other, better films in the same breath as this insipid excuse for a satire. Every time I see a film with as many big stars as this one—including Lauren Holly, Benjamin Bratt, and Lord of the Rings' Sean Astin—premiere on DVD, my alarm bells go off. That it's also clearly a vanity project for director Burt Reynolds did little to assuage my fears (which turned out to be well-founded).

Reynolds plays Sonny Wexler, a former Hollywood big shot who's reluctant to admit that he's over the hill. He's desperate to find the project that will put him back on top, and he's sure he's done it when he reads a script from young Samwise Gamgee, taking a break from his quest to destroy the One Ring. He buys the script (writing out a contract on a napkin), only to have it stolen out from under him by a slick industry operator with the not at all unsubtle moniker Damon Black (Ben Bratt). Because oily Hollywood operators are evil, like the devil, you see, and their hearts are as black as coal. Sigh. Anyway, Sonny's only hope is to quickly procure $50K and make good on his biodegradable contract. While he tries to borrow the cash from a few mafia lone sharks, he has to deal with meddling would-be actors, a doped-up hanger on, and insurance fraud.

Just about everything than can go wrong with a film goes wrong with The Final Hit. It's bad, but not in the so-bad-it's-good way. Even at 90 minutes, it feels overlong, and it's horribly paced. The script, which feels like a Hollywood insider comedy penned by a Hollywood outsider, never does anything original, and ladles on the bad dialogue to boot. And Reynolds' direction does little to better things—his dull visual style means that the movie is as boring to look at as it is to listen to.

The cast includes some B-list stars, to be sure, but none of them are able to transcend the material. Perhaps if the actors had hammed it up, the film could have at least been enjoyable for its camp value (though I doubt it). But everyone seems to be sleepwalking through their roles. Even Reynolds simply offers a retread of his role in Boogie Nights (surprisingly, no Oscar® nom this time around). For his sake, I hope the title doesn't wind up having some sort of ironic significance.

Rating for Style: C-
Rating for Substance: D+


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: This is one of the more problematic transfers I've reviewed lately. The problems are noticeable right off the bat with glaring artifacts visible throughout the opening sequences. They appear on and off throughout the film, showing up mostly in busier shots of buildings or crowds. Aliasing is a problem as well, with severe shimmer showing on many horizontal surfaces. The more static scenes look a bit better, but they too suffer, particularly from the inconsistent blacks and muddy shadow detail. Colors overall are pretty dull and flat, and the entire production has the look of a low-budget TV movie.

Image Transfer Grade: C-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: The audio, available in either 2.0 or 5.1 DD English, fares quite a bit better than the video, but it's a very bland presentation. The 5.1 mix anchors dialogue in the center channel, and it sounds clear and natural. The front mains handle the jazz score fairly well, though without the benefit of directionality to fill out the soundstage a bit more. The mix is pretty front heavy; the rears are only active here and there, and then mostly to handle ambient noise or the occasional sound effect.

Audio Transfer Grade: B-


Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Scene Access with 20 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish with remote access
Cast and Crew Filmographies
1 Original Trailer(s)
1 Featurette(s)
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: Extras are limited to the trailer, some filmographies, and a useless 7-minute behind-the-scenes puff piece, featuring lots of film clips and airheaded interviews with the cast and crew. The packaging annoys me by stealing the image of the winking dollar bill from Hard Cash—it's cruel and unusual of Artisan to remind me of that film's existence.

Extras Grade: D-


Final Comments

The Final Hit is a tepid Hollywood satire masquerading as witty farce. Even a great cast can't create art out of a bad script, and Burt Reynolds' merely adequate direction does little to help matters. Artisan's DVD is no great shakes, either, with inconsistent video quality and dull supplemental features.


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