Sunday, October 23, 2022

AT CLOSE RANGE (1986) (MVD Rewind Collection Blu-ray Review)


Label: MVD Rewind Collection
Region Code: A
Rating: R
Duration: 115 min 
Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0, Spanish and French Mono Dolby Digital Mono with Optional English, Spanish and French Subtitles 
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (2.35:1)
Director: James Foley
Cast Sean Penn, Christopher Walken, Mary Stuart Masterson, Crispin Glover, Tracey Walter, Christopher Penn, Kiefer Sutherland, David Strathairn, Stephen Geoffreys, Candy Clark

At Close Range (1986), directed by James Foley, is based on the story of rural Pennsylvania crime boss Bruce Johnston, in it teenager Brad Whitewood, Jr. (Sean Penn, Fast Times at Ridgemont Hight) has graduated highschool and has no plans, but he's tired on life in dullsville. He lives at home with his mom Julie (Millie Perkins, The Witch Who Came from the Sea) and his grandmother (Eileen Ryan, Feast), and little brother. After his mom's new boyfriend (Alan Autry, Southern Comfort) gets a bit to hands-on during an argument he leaves home and seeks out his estranged father Brad Sr. (Christopher Walken, Dead Zone), a well-known thief living in the neighboring town. His father takes him and his younger brother Tommy (Christopher Penn, Reservoir Dogs) under his wing and grooms them with his intoxicating brand of thief's wisdom, bringing them into his inner-circle, alongside Patch (Tracey Walter, Repo Man), Dickie (R. D. Call), Tony (David Strathairn, Nightmare Alley) and Boyd (J.C. Quinn). Together they pull off a handful of jobs stealing farm tractors, with Jr taking a real liking to the thief-life and the easy money it brings.  

However, when Brad Jr.'s gets a new girlfriend, the lovely Terry (Mary Stuart Masterson, Some Kind of Wonderful), Brad Sr. doesn't appreciate her influence on his son. Not long after Brad Jr. witnesses his father dispatch a former sideman who looks to be an informant for the cops, and decides to split. He plans to leave town with Terry but he needs cash to do that, and to that end he recruits his school pals Lucas (Crispin Glover, Willard), Tim (Kiefer Sutherland, The Lost Boys) and Aggie (Stephen Geoffreys, Fright Night) to knock over a tractor store - there's a lot of tractor stealing in this film - but it all goes wrong and they get busted. The feds get involved and Brad Sr. feels forced to to a few drastic things to tidy up any incrimination loose ends, including painting a target on his own son(s) and their friends. 

This was a first time watch for me, and right from the start it has the small-town neo-noir flavor of something along the lines of Blood Simple or a A Simple Plan, its stylishly shot and is packed with fantastic performances, highlighted by the father-son pairing of Walken and Penn - who are terrific. This also has an enviable supporting cast of actors who were either about to blow up or have long and established careers, including Kiefer Sutherland (the year before The Lost Boys), Mary Stuart Masterson (right before Some Kind of Wonderful), and Crispin Glover (the year after Back to the Future), plus Tracey Walter (Drive), Christopher Penn, David Strathairn, and we even Candy Clark (Amityville 3-D) as Brad Sr.'s strangely-silent girlfriend. 

Audio/Video: At Close Range (1986) arrives on Blu-ray from the MVD Rewind Collection arm of MVD Entertainment in 1080p HD widescreen (2.35:1) and looks solid. The source is in great shape, grain looks good and it looks organic throughout, there's the stray vertical line or small scratch, but overall  the colors are well-saturated and it quite pleasing. The film is quite dark and thankfully the black levels are quite good, without being super inky black. Audio comes by way of uncompressed English with optional English subtitles. The track is also in good shape, free of hiss, and reproduces dialogue quite naturally. The score from Patrick Leonard also sounds great, and is featured on the Isolated Score Score track, which is presented with uncompressed 2.0 audio as a bonus feature. 

The extras on the disc include the aforementioned Isolated Score and the archival Audio Commentary with James Foley hosted by the late Nick Redman of Twilight Time. We also get a handful of MVD Trailers. The single-disc release arrives in a clear Viva Elite keepcase with a sleeve of reversible artwork, which is actually the same key art with a different colored background, Both the wrap and slip are branded, this being #44 of The MVD Rewind Collection. Inside there's a Collectible Mini-Poster with the same artwork. 

Special Features:
- Audio Commentary with James Foley hosted by Film Historian Nick Redman.
- Isolated Score Track
- Reversible Sleeve of Artwork
- Collectible Mini-Poster
- Limited Edition Slipcover (First Pressing Only)
- Trailers: At Close Range (3 min), The Chocolate War (2 min), Panther(2 min), Miami Blues (2 min), Desperate Hours (2 min), Disturbing Behavior (2 min) 

At Close Range (1986) is a solid neo-noir thriller, it hit a lot harder than I was expecting. I'm not sure how close it sticks to the true story, but it goes places I wasn't not expecting, and those scenes packed a punch. This is one that pulls you in early and keeps you rapt from the get-go, with both Walken and Penn being absolutely magnetic. A solid release from MVD Rewind Collection, highly recommended. 

Screenshots from the MVD Rewind Blu-ray: