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New Line Home Cinema presents
All About The Benjamins (2002)

Bukum: You can't steal from a dead woman!
Reggie: I can't hear her complaining.

- Ice Cube, Mike Epps

Review By: Kevin Clemons   
Published: August 18, 2002

Stars: Ice Cube, Mike Epps
Other Stars: Eva Mendes, Tomm Flanagan
Director: Kevin Bray

Manufacturer: WAMO
MPAA Rating: R for violence, language, and brief sexuality
Run Time: 01h:48m:24s
Release Date: August 20, 2002
UPC: 794043546624
Genre: action

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B+ B-AB+ B

DVD Review

There is something irresistable about the sort of overdone action film that offers the kind of entertainment that allows your brain to shutdown and forget about the troubles of daily life. Fast-paced action with an abundance of shootouts and explosions is perhaps my greatest guilty pleasure in the medium of filmed entertainment.

While Kevin Bray's All About The Benjamins is far from being on the same level of escapist entertainment as the current Vin Diesel action film XXX, there is something admirable here. Even without a coherent plot or fully fleshed-out characters, there is still plenty to enjoy. Bray's sense of direction at times seems to be almost too stylized for a film with a plot that is running on vapors as well as two lead characters that show no real signs of chemistry.

Bucum (pronounced "book 'em") Jackson (Cube) is a bounty hunter for a Miami bail bondsman and has a penchant for turning even the most routine capture into an all out gunfight. His most recent assignment is to find and capture Reggie Wright (Epps), collect his paltry commission, and get on with his dream: his own private investigation service. Meanwhile, Wright stumbles onto a million dollar diamond heist and winds up involved with the thieves who now want him dead. With only Jackson to protect him, the two face off against Williamson (Flanagan) in the hopes that they can get their hands on a whole lot of "benjamins."

With a script that's an easy target for criticism, perhaps the greatest detriment is that it tries hard (and succeeds) to be overly violent and brutal. The filmmakers clearly want this to be a hard-nosed action piece, yet add an element of comedy from the two leads, the result of which is that the evilness of the villains and the extremely bloody shootouts seems too stark in contrast. It seems the screenwriters (Cube and Ronald Lang) offer up yet another shocking moment and follow it with a bit of humor in an attempt to catch the audience off guard. This approach pretty much fails, as each aspect only serves to dilute the other.

This brings us to Kevin Bray, a director who got his start in music videos by helming clips for such stars as Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey. While his direction certainly shows a potentially interesting career, he seems unable to create the palpable tension required here. His work is flashy (though admittedly, making Miami look amazing is not a difficult task), and stylish in the way that he choreographs the action sequences, as well as his construction of some of the quieter moments. Bray seems to have the ability to do better work with a more serviceable script, and I look forward to his future projects.

Since starring in the abysmal Next Friday, there seems to be some hope that Ice Cube and comedian Mike Epps might be a latter day Martin and Lewis. Unfortunately, only Cube has the ability to carry a film based on talent alone. With his work in Three Kings, Cube proved himself, in my opinion, to be possibly the most talented rapper-turned-actor to have come along to date, and his work here shows promise. I enjoyed the simple manner in which he moved through the film, never rising above his cast mates, given that he is actually the creative force behind the material. Epps, on the other hand, fares much worse; his shtick seems tired and routine, especially his flamboyant attempts to sound like an annoying cross between Eddie Murphy and Samuel L. Jackson.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B-


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio2.35:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: It is becoming routine for New Line to put out one amazing image transfer after another, and the same quality is found in the 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen image here. This is as nice a transfer as I have seen; sharpness and detail are absolutely perfect throughout. Colors are vibrant, while black levels in the night sequences seem perfect. I noticed a small amount of edge enhancement throughout the film, though not enough to fuss about. Overall, this is a terrific transfer.

Image Transfer Grade: A


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: With both Dolby digital 5.1 and DTS sound mixes. All About The Benjamins offers an audio portion that is on par with the quality of the video transfer. Dialogue is clear throughout with no harshness, while the left and right speakers handle the overused hip hop soundtrack nicely. The surround speakers do a fine job of not only reinforcing the music heard in the film but also adding ambience to each scene. The opening sequence has so many little sounds adding to the overall ambience that it seems you can hear nearly everything in the Everglades.

A head-to-head showdown between the two digital tracks proved no clear winner, but the DTS mix did seem to be a bit broader in the action sequences. One disconcerting aspect of the DTS mix were the numerous sound dropouts I discovered. This may have only been my particular disc, but when I popped in another DTS DVD I found no similar problems.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+


Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Scene Access with 28 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
Cast and Crew Biographies
Cast and Crew Filmographies
1 Original Trailer(s)
1 TV Spots/Teasers
1 Deleted Scenes
4 Documentaries
1 Feature/Episode commentary by director Kevin Bray and producer Matt Alvarez
Weblink/DVD-ROM Material
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: RSDL

Extra Extras:
  1. Gag reel
  2. Told Y'all music video by Trina
Extras Review: While Infinifilm is proving to be the best of New Line's special edition products, the Platinum Series is still very much alive. Beginning with a commentary track by director Kevin Bray and producer Matt Alvarez, the disc features some decent extra material.

The commentary is perhaps the most significant feature, though not necessarily the best. The pair mostly talk about the making of the film with a few anecdotes about the production. Overall, I found the track to be somewhat boring and not very uninformative.

Better are a series of four documentaries that include: Shot Caller: From Videos to Features, Strictly Business: Making The Benjamins, Miami Nice, and All About the Stunts. Shot Caller is the best, as directors Brett Ratner (Rush Hour), Steve Carr (Next Friday) and Kevin Bray talk about their transitions from the world of music videos to that of feature films. The trio discuss the difficulties of adjusting from three-day schedules to three months and there are several informative statements made about the structure of music videos and films. The remaining three documentaries deal largely with the film itself; Miami Nice, which is a look at the production design, is most worth a look.

Included is Told Y'all, a music video by Trina, which may well be one of the worst songs I have ever heard.

Rounding out the extra features is a single deleted scene, an unfunny gag reel, the standard theatrical and teaser trailers and cast and crew bios.

Extras Grade: B


Final Comments

As light entertainment, there is little about All About The Benjamins that would make for a bad rental on a lazy weekend. The DVD sports an amazing image transfer and a nice handful of extra features.


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