Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Cast: Michael Caine, Jude Law
Extras: Commentary Tracks, Featurettes, Trailers
Kenneth Branagh remade the 1972 film "Sleuth" here and gave the movie a more contemporary twist. Since the film is about two men and their mind-game, the update works very well, because it doesn't really affect the overall story. Instead it serves to se t a mood for the film, allowing the update to make the men more tangible in a modern sense. Another interesting twist in the production is that like in the original film, Michael Caine plays one of the parts – only this time, he plays the "other" guy.
Andrew Wyke (Michael Caine) is a bestselling novelist, writing crime thrillers that please the masses. He invites Milo Trindle (Jude Law) to his house to discuss a rather personal matter. Trindle is sleeping with Wyke's wife. But instead of going off on the man, Wyke actually wants to get rid of his wife and thus suggests to help Trindle get the money necessary to keep such a high maintenance lady. His plan is to have Trindle fake a break-in in Wyke's home and steal a million's worth of jewelry. But soon it becomes clear that his plan is not quite a straight forward and that his motives may not be what he pretends.
"Sleuth" is an incredible cat and mouse story, originally based on a theater play, that is clearly a thinking-man's comedy thriller. The two men pit their wits against each other as one tries to outmaneuver the other, constantly shifting the force of power from one to the other. The moment one seems to have the upper hand, the other one comes up with a surprise twist in the plot that makes it all naught, only to find out he has been second-guessed already.
As a result, "Sleuth" is a very character and dialogue heavy production by nature and having Michael Caine in one part and Jude Law in the other is a wonderful mix that elevates the film to great heights. Caine is an easy pick, in a sense, as we all know that he is a world-class actor who can portray and reveal more of a character with a simple look than most actors can with full-body antics. But I found it amazing how well Jude Law stood up to the challenge, and I think his performance in this movie is simply amazing. Reveling in the power play, his portrayal is understated at times, overly confident at others, then switching to desperation, fear, triumph within the blink of an eye. Both actors bring forth the entire palette of emotions with easy and more importantly with such realistic conviction that it is a pure joy to watch them.
The film also has very cool visual style with Wyke's house being a super-modern fortress with all sorts of gadgets and security systems. Everything is remote controlled, features sliding walls, minimalist decoration and moving colored lights. The result is a dramatic backdrop that underscores the character drama we see as part of the plot.
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has prepared a gorgeous high definition transfer for this Blu-Ray release in 1080p. Without a speckle or blemish, the image is pristine throughout and offers incredibly rich hues and colors. It is never oversaturated and with its increased color-resolution, the transfer is capable of rendering subtle shades that wonderfully bring to life the glorious cinematography.
The transfer also offers up black levels that are incredibly deep, yet never lose detail. Carefully reproducing the film's original vision, the image is balanced and offers great contrast to make sure it properly reflects the original production.
"Sleuth" is not a sound-heavy production, featuring mostly dialogue and some minimalist music to tell the story. As such a TrueHD audio track might feel like a bit of overkill, but at the same time, a bit of quality has never hurt anybody. As such, the track reproduces every bit of information and spatial integration found in the mix and gives us a very transparent and clear presentation of the film's music and sounds.
As extras the release contains two commentary tracks. The first one features director Kenneth Branagh and Michael Caine as they discuss the amalgamation of the remake. The second commentary track features Jude Law as he discusses his experiences and thoughts on the movie. Both of them are very interesting and full of great insights.
You can also find two featurettes on the disc for more information. The first one is a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the film. It offers talking head interviews as well as on-set footage from the film's production and rehearsal.
The second one is a really short discussion and look at the creation of the special effect make-up for Inspector Black. Nothing spectacular, really, but still worth a quick look.
I enjoyed "Sleuth" very much. I liked the 1972 original move and I think I like this remake even better – although it is a close call to be honest. This Blu-Ray version of the movie is a great way to enjoy the movie as it is brilliant and pretty in every aspect you could ask for. If you don't mind a film with less action but a whole lot more intellect, try and see if "Sleuth" works for you.