11:14 (2003)
New Line Home Entertainment
Cast: Patrick Swayze, Hilary Swank, Rachael Leigh Cook, Barbara Hershey, Henry Thomas
Extras: Commentary Track, Deleted Scenes, Photo Gallery, Featurette, Character Jump

"11:14" is director/writer Greg Marcks' feature film debut, and it is an impressive one at that. At the tender age of 27 he put together a solid script, successfully shopped it around Hollywood, pulled in a respectable cast, including Academy-Award winner Hilary Swank and put it all on celluloid in a fashion that rivals Paul Thomas Anderson's. In fact, a lot of "11:14" reminded me of Anderson's "Magnolia" but never to the point that it is derivative. It feels more inspired by it, asking the same basic question, "What if these things were all somehow interrelated?" The result, "11:14" is now available on DVD from New Line Home Entertainment and it was well worth checking out.

Jack (Henry Thomas) is on his way home in an American small town, intoxicated by some whiskey, when all of a sudden he hits something without ever seeing it coming. He stops to find that he ran over man, who is now all smashed up to pulp. Terrified he tries to hide the accident and puts the body in the trunk of his car, when a police officer stops by to see what happened. The officer finds Jack drunk and without a driving license and arrests him, when Jack makes a run for it. He races through the forests only to end up in front of house where he meets a woman, frantic about a phone call she just received telling her that her only daughter had been run over in a hit-and-run accident just a few minutes ago.

This is how the film starts and from there it weaves out its threads to a number of people showing how all their actions were linked to each other during some fatal 15 minutes until they all culminated in a series of tragic events at exactly 11:14.

The beauty of "11:14" is that it never feels artificial. Despite the fact these incidents are somewhat coincidental, they always feel natural and definitely a possible way of how things could have happened. All the characters in the film are linked by their actions. Everything one character did contributed to something another character did, which in turn contributed to the actions of another, which eventually ended in the death of some of these characters. It is a wild ride that is nicely put together by recounting the events in almost episodic fashion from the perspective of each one of the characters.

On a different side note I also found it fascinating how Marcks decided to shoot this film in Los Angeles and yet managed to give it the look of an American small town. This is certainly not the over-exposed Los Angeles you usually get to see in Hollywood pictures.

Apart from how effortless Marcks seems to have put these intricate plots together, I found the film also refreshing in that it shows how some reckless actions of a single person can have wide implications on many – seemingly completely unrelated – people. It is a tale of "if this guy wouldn't have been so stupid to do this, that would never have happened" from the first minute to the last. In fact, if only one of these characters would have had some common sense practically none of this would have happened at all. But one bad idea leads to another and another and another… As such the film is a great reminder that it does make sense sometimes to turn on your brain on occasion no matter how much the hormones rage through your body.

The movie is also wonderfully acted and brings the characters to live vividly. Patrick Swayze nicely roots the film with his portrayal of a concerned father trying to protect his daughter, while the rest of cast is way out there playing it reckless, stupid, or just plain inconsiderate as their little world implodes.

New Line has put together a great release for the film, featuring a wonderful anamorphic widescreen transfer in the film's original 1.85:1 aspect ratio. There is no grain evident and no blemishes mar the presentation. Colors are strong and natural, while blacks are solid, rendering deep shadows that don't lose definition or break up. Overall image definition is very good holding a lot of detail and retaining it even in dimly lit shots. No edge-enhancement is evident and the compression is also without flaws.

The audio on the release comes as a 5.1 channel Dolby Digital track that is dynamic and makes good use of the surrounds. While not extremely aggressive, surround channels are used frequently for sound effects as well as to present the music in a wider sound field. Dialogues are nicely integrated and are never drowned out.

As extras the release contains a commentary track by director Greg Marcks. It is an interesting and insightful commentary that nicely details the shooting of the film, how ideas came together and how he woven the different threads together.

Also included are a few deleted scenes with optional commentary by the director. The scenes are nice to view but have been excised because they weren't needed as their content was properly set up and implied in the stories. Nonetheless hey are well worth watching.

Also included is a Making Of Featurette with cast and crew interviews as well as a photo gallery with production photos.

As another nice feature the DVD contains "Character Jump," a feature that allows you to see what each character is doing at any particular time in the film. It is again one of those features where New Line's dedication to its films really shows and pays off. The way it works is that you view the film and then at any time you can switch to any of the other five main characters to see what they were doing at the exact same time. Cool feature, really.

"11:14" is a very cool film that surprised me quite a bit. The interesting way of telling the story is creative yet never too artsy, and the gritty tone of the film and the way the events' details unfold make sure to pull you in from the first to the last minute. This is a very impressive feature film debut for Greg Marcks and I am certainly looking forward to see more of his work in the future.