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Sony Pictures Home Entertainment presents
The Deal (2005)

"Is that your warped idea of career counseling?"
- Abbey (Selma Blair)

Review By: Chuck Aliaga   
Published: August 18, 2005

Stars: Christian Slater, Selma Blair
Other Stars: John Heard, Angie Harmon, Kevin Tighe, Colm Feore, Robert Loggia
Director: Harvey Kahn

MPAA Rating: R for (language, some violence)
Run Time: 01h:47m:38s
Release Date: August 16, 2005
UPC: 043396115408
Genre: suspense thriller

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B+ A-AB+ D

DVD Review

It's always sad to see an actor that you enjoy take a huge swan dive from grace. Christian Slater is among the most depressing of these examples. His early work in Heathers, Pump Up the Volume, and even the underrated Kuffs gave promise of great things to come. Then, after a few years of success, Slater seemed to fall off the face of the earth, making his eventual return in direct-to-video junk like Hard Cash and even a few theatrical releases like the abhorrent Alone in the Dark.

Slater makes a triumphant return to form in The Deal, a small film that showed up in a few choice theaters mere weeks before its DVD release. He stars as Tom Hanson, a Wall Street executive who has agreed to broker a $200 billion deal with his firm's largest client. While this deal could mean a whopping $200 million for his firm and the ultimate in success for Tom, the Russian mob soon becomes involved, and are seemingly behind the murder of his close friend and colleague. In the middle of this huge potential transaction, Tom is juggling two women, Abbey (Selma Blair), a Harvard grad who has just taken a job at Tom's firm, despite her liberal attitude and apparent hatred of corporate America, and Anna (Angie Harmon), a sexy businesswoman. Aside from these women, Tom soon realizes that he can't trust anyone, especially his closest co-workers and the CEO of the firm behind this deal, Jared Tolson (Robert Loggia). As his feelings for Abbey grow and Anna becomes more and more mysterious, Tom must decide what's more important: this life-changing deal or his and Abbey's lives.

I'm not the biggest Selma Blair fan—although I did enjoy her beyond daring work in Todd Solondz's Storytelling—but she does an excellent job as Abbey. She strikes a nice balance between a young women starting her career and a strong woman with beliefs that she firmly stands behind. At the same time she comes across as a perpetually happy soul, very perky and even strangely aloof at times. Reflecting upon Blair's work in Storytelling, I was shocked that she could play a character that was more dynamic than that one.

This is the first major motion picture to openly touch on the oil shortage and resulting ridiculous gas prices we are all dealing with now. At times, the story seems a bit preachy, clearly against these price surges, but it is difficult to argue with its message. The only real complaint I had with The Deal is its confusing, semi-rambling dialogue involving the dynamics of the titular deal. The power and effectiveness of the film could have been just as strong if some of the business talk had been cut, and a bit more time had been spent on the dynamics of Slater and/or Blair's characters and their romance.

Many twists and turns take place throughout the course of the picture, but none of them are exactly difficult to foresee. While predictability can often single-handedly destroy a story's credibility and audience's overall enjoyment of it, The Deal manages to sidestep this potential problem. Director Harvey Kahn has done a fine job wrangling this impressive ensemble cast, keeping the talky dialogue from getting out of hand, and getting his career moving in the right direction with this solid little drama.

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


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: This 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen presentation looks just great, with each and every image being as sharp and detailed as we would expect from a 2005 film. The colors are well rendered, with deep blacks and reds that never suffer from and bleeding or other discoloration. There is a bit of grain over the opening credit sequence, but that soon disappears and it's smooth sailing for the rest of the running time.

Image Transfer Grade: A


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital
English, Frenchyes

Audio Transfer Review: Dolby Digital 5.1 is the only available audio and it's more than adequate. The film is very dialogue-heavy, and the only time the surrounds get any work is during the handful of chase sequences that are surprisingly intense in their own right. The aforementioned dialogue is always easy to understand even when the substance of it grows muddled, and it's worked into the rest of the mix quite well.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 12 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French with remote access
5 Other Trailer(s) featuring The Marksman, Murder at the Presidio, Layer Cake, In My Country, Kung Fu Hustle
Packaging: Keep Case
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extras Review: The only extras are previews for other Sony Pictures Home Entertainment releases.

Extras Grade: D


Final Comments

Despite his problems both on-screen and off, Christian Slater has persevered and is back in his early '90s form thanks to The Deal, or, what could be considered "The Firm lite." A limited theatrical release didn't help this film's exposure, but thanks to Sony more people can discover it on DVD. The audio and video quality is what we would expect from such a recent film, but, unfortunately, there aren't any extras on the disc.


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