Blu-ray Review: After the Sunset

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The 2004 comedic thriller After the Sunset briefly paused the box office hit streak of director Brett Ratner. Following hits like Rush Hour, Rush Hour 2, and Red Dragon, Ratner seemed to have the Midas touch for awhile. On paper it might’ve seen like After the Sunset was another sure thing. The cast alone—Pierce Brosnan, Salma Hayek, Woody Harrelson, Don Cheadle, and then-rising star (and current Miss Moneypenny) Naomie Harris—seemed enough to ensure interest. Add in the beautiful Caribbean locations and a breezy, who’s-conning-who plot and it probably should’ve struck the public’s fancy. It stalled at $28 million in the U.S. While no classic, After the Sunset is a fun slice of ultra-lightweight entertainment and it’s now on Blu-ray for the first time.

Right from the opening, which finds jewel thief Lola (Hayek) polishing windshields in a so-phony-it’s-funny “street person” disguise, Ratner delivers nothing more than happy-go-lucky action and gags. Lola and her love interest/partner-in-crime Max (Brosnan) are trying to steal another prized “Napoleon” diamond (there are only three in existence, and they already possess one). FBI agent Stan (Harrelson) has been trying to nab this criminal couple for a long time and is determined to finally stop them. In fact, Max and Lola are purportedly retiring, living it up in high style in the Caribbean. Stan suspects otherwise and follows him to the Bahamas’ Paradise Island to track them, partnering with local cop Sophie (Harris).

After the Sunset 1 (380x251).jpgCheadle is woefully underutilized as Henri Mooré, a Paradise Island kingpin who’s also got his sights set on the diamonds. That’s easily the most glaring flaw, but otherwise it’s a fluffy, harmless, relaxed ride. Everyone appears to be having a grand time, but rather than being purely indulgent, the fun is contagious if you just disconnect the more discerning part of your brain. The plethora of special features (in standard def, ported over from a previous DVD edition) also offers ample evidence that the on-location fun was real.

After the Sunset 3 (380x248).jpg“Before, During, and After the Sunset” is a lengthy documentary that shows how enthusiastic Ratner was about the production. There’s also a Ratner commentary, very funny blooper reel, deleted scenes (with alternate commentary), a Charlie Rose Show interview, and a few additional pieces. The special effects demonstration featurette is a must-see as it reveals some of the startlingly seamless digital alterations made to certain shots.

Fans of the film will likely enjoy the audio/visual presentation. The terrific work of prolific cinematographer Dante Spinotti (this is the guy who shot L.A. Confidential, as well as both Manhunter and Red Dragon) looks splendid here, with plenty of consistent, natural-looking fine grain retained. The DTS-HD MA 5.1 surround track is not nearly as punchy as contemporary releases, but it’s strong nonetheless. All in all a solid catalog release from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.

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Chaz Lipp is a Seattle-based freelance writer whose focus is music and film. As “The Other Chad,” he has written for the online magazine Blogcritics since 2008. When he’s not writing, Chaz can be found trolling jazz clubs, attempting to find somewhere to play his sax (whether anyone wants to hear…

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