After The Sunset

After The Sunset (2004)
New Line Home Entertainment
Cast: Pierce Brosnan, Woody Harrelson, Salma Hayek, Don Cheadle
Extras: Commentary Track, Deleted Scenes, Bloopers, Featurette, Interview, Charlie Rose Show, Trailer and Teasers

I’m a sucker for crime capers. Always been and always will be. From classic films such as "Topkapi" all the way to new entries like "The Score." Now, "Rush Hour" director Brett Ratner tried his hand at the genre, bringing us "After The Sunset." I was eager to see what Hollywood’s hottest upcoming director is serving up and how the DVD turned out, as Ratner is known for being a DVD enthusiast like no other.

Max Burdett (Pierce Brosnan) and his partner Lola (Salma Hayek) are two master thieves who made fortunes stealing some of the most precious diamonds in the world. And despite the FBI’s best efforts they were never able to catch the duo. Agent Stan Lloyd (Woody Harrelson) is not giving up, though, and he is obsessed with the idea of catching Max one day.

After the biggest coup of their career Max and Lola escape to the Bahamas to relax and enjoy their riches in retirement. Everything looks great until Stan shows up on their doorstep unwilling to accept that Max and Lola would really call it quits. He suspects that the two have chosen the Bahamas for their "retirement" in order to steal a famous diamond that just happens to be showcased on a cruise ship anchored at the island. Coincidence, or what?

"After The Sunset" is a great flick that contains all the elements of a great crime caper, including a wonderful and charismatic cast. Pierce Brosnan is once again perfect as the suave and calculating master thief while Woody Harrelson plays out every little nuance in his character of the obsessed and defeated FBI agent. I’m usually not a big fan of Salma Hayek but I did like her in this film, in part also because a voice coach has finally been able to get her off that grating accent she used to have. She now has not only the acting but also the vocal abilities to really play parts… and having her body doesn’t hurt either. Add to that Don Cheadle in a cool, but small, supporting role and you’re all set for the ride.

Shot on various islands of the Bahamas, "After The Sunset" has a lot of exotic flair. You can almost smell the coconuts and sun blocker while you look at the turquoise waves. At the same time it mixes in high tech in a way that it never becomes obtrusive or fells pasted on. Everything is coherent and makes sense. Brett Ratner directs the film with a sure hand and with his usual bravado, making "After The Sunset" a thoroughly enjoyable and entertaining film that sometimes makes unexpected turns and twists. It has everything you’d like to see in a caper – great premise, cool locations, engaging characters and an unpredictable plot.

New Line Home Entertainment serves up this film as a Platinum Edition featuring a meticulously clean <$PS,widescreen> transfer of the movie that is <$16x9,enhanced for 16x9> TV sets of course. The image holds an immense level of detail, bringing out the most of the production and its cool settings. Colors are vibrant and rich without bleeding or over-saturation, rendering hues and color grades absolutely perfectly. Black levels are solid, giving the image plenty of visual depth and creating shadows that are deep and never lose definition. No edge-enhancement mars the image and the compression has also been handled so carefully as not to introduce and compression artifacts. This is a wonderful transfer that reminds you just why you bought DVD in the first place.

The audio on the DVD comes as a <$5.1,5.1 channel> <$DD,Dolby Digital> mix that is dynamic and active. Making constant use of the split surround channels the soundtrack always maintains a natural sound filed with sound effects and ambient noises bleeding in from various directions. The result is a bustling mix that feels authentic and real. The wide frequency response with a deep bass extension adds to the experience and the great dynamics of the track make sure you’ll never miss a beat or even the most subtle breathing.

As extras the DVD has also quite a bit to offer. It starts out with a <$commentary,commentary track> featuring a laryngitis-stricken Bret Ratner, producer Beau Flynn and editor Mark Helfrich. The three of them have put together a great commentary, despite Ratner’s evident voice handicap. It is full of insightful bits of information. It covers many production aspects and especially Ratner also covers many of the technical aspects, talking about how he put certain shots together etc. The result is a very valuable <$commentary,commentary track> that never feels promot-ey or shallow, as it always digs really deep into the production. Cool!

The DVD also offers up a selection of 15 deleted and alternate scenes, including an alternate ending. All scenes offer optional commentary and definitely worth checking out – especially the alternate ending. It is followed up by 5-minutes of bloopers which are equally entertaining.

"Before, During and After The Sunset" is a featurette covering the production of the movie. This is not your average promo featurette but a really intimate look at the making of the film. It contains interview clips but also a lot of candid on-set footage – some of it, interestingly enough not always flattering. It shows that the makers of the DVD and the movie were more interested in creating a featurette that is really showing what was going on as opposed to a fluffy promo piece. You’ll get to see the crew scouting locations in the Caribbean, setting up shots, preparing for their scenes, screwing up, dealing with problems and pressures and all the other stuff surround real film production. Thanks go out to New Line and the cast and crew of the movie for allowing DVD fans such an intimate look at their work.

Interviews with Ratner, Hayek, Harrelson and Brosnan from the Charlie Rose Show are also included on the DVD in their entirety, running almost 20 minutes.

You will also get to meet Bill Mason in "Interview With A Jewel Thief." As you undoubtedly suspected already, Mason is a real-life jewel thief who has also documented his career in a book. In this 8-minute segment he talks to Bret Ratner about how he became a jewel thief and what drove him.

The DVD is rounded out by special effects comparisons and the movie’s trailers and teasers.

New Line Home Entertainment is once again delivering a gem here… no pun intended. "After The Sunset" is another great film by Bret Ratner that makes you want to see more of the filmmaker’s work, while the DVd itself is technically on the highest level without flaws, problems or omissions. It is a well-rounded and honest DVD release for a charming and highly entertaining crime caper movie. Get it while it’s hot!