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James Haslam
Uma Thurman, Tim Roth, Sofia Vergara
Writing Credits:
James Haslam, Alex Michaelides

In an effort to avoid paying off a massive gambling debt to a notorious mobster in England, a couple flees to Los Angeles and hatch a jewel theft plot.

Rated R.

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 95 min.
Price: $21.99
Release Date: 7/24/2018

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The Con Is On [Blu-Ray] (2018)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (July 10, 2018)

Pulp Fiction veterans Uma Thurman and Tim Roth reunite for 2018’s crime comedy The Con Is On. Thieves Peter (Roth) and Harriet (Thurman) owe a massive amount of money to gangster Irina (Maggie Q).

To pay off this debt, Peter and Harriet plan a jewel heist and they travel to Los Angeles to achieve this feat. We follow their attempts to succeed along with connected shenanigans.

When I referred to Thurman and Roth’s connection to Pulp Fiction, that might’ve been a bit misleading since their two characters never interacted. Both appeared in wholly separate slices of the film and didn’t meet.

Rather than reflect the world of Tarantino, Con seems more connected to the style of Guy Ritchie and various black comedies. It takes on a dark tone that tries to offer some style despite its inherent cynicism.

We get the movie’s worldview from the very start. In the first dialogue we hear, an elderly nun asks Harriet “what the fuck are you doing here?”

Intended to shock and point toward the gritty, irreverent tone the movie will follow, this opening scene simply feels gratuitous. The project doesn’t improve from there, as it tosses out depravity in huge dollops that exist less to tell a story and more in a misguided attempt to be “edgy”.

This fails, and it fails miserably. Even with an incredibly simple plot, Con can’t stay on target, as it prefers to subject us to endless unpleasantness among its characters.

Its unlikable characters, I should say, as not a single member of this crew gives us a personality about whom we care. Some movies can get away with a roster of jerks, but it takes a lot of skill to pull off that trick, and co-writer/director James Oakley doesn’t show 1/10th the talent required.

Essentially Con consists of one crude interaction among these awful people after another. We get drunks, gamblers, criminals and perverts, all of whom are supposed to entertain us due to their wildness, I guess.

They don’t, as instead they simply make us hate them – and the filmmakers for forcing us to endure their nastiness. Again, this doesn’t become “edgy” or daring – it’s just witless cruelty and unpleasantness for its own sake.

Con trashes a pretty good cast. In addition to Thurman, Roth and Q, we find folks like Alice Eve, Parker Posey, Stephen Fry, Sofia Vergara and Crispin Glover, none of whom manage to elevate their characters. Perhaps this movie would’ve flopped even worse with less skilled performers, but at least that would’ve felt less like a waste of talent.

Oakley appeared to understand he made a stinker, as he goes by the credit “James Haslam” here. Smart choice, James – you created a truly awful film and any attempt to distance yourself from it makes total sense.

The Disc Grades: Picture B-/ Audio B-/ Bonus D-

The Con Is On appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Though mostly satisfying, the image seemed more inconsistent than expected.

Overall, sharpness worked well, as the movie usually generated appealing delineation. However, the film could appear a little soft at times, mainly because it occasionally took on a slightly gauzy impression. I suspect this existed to “de-age” some of the actresses, and it left the picture with a bit of softness.

No issues with jagged edges or moiré effects appeared, and I saw no edge haloes. Print flaws failed to impact the proceedings.

Unsurprisingly, the palette used the usual teal and orange, both in fairly heavy doses. This mainly affected skin tones, as the characters looked more “Oompa Loompa” than “tan”. Still, within the design parameters, the hues worked as planned.

Shadows looked fairly smooth and clear, but blacks could be a little on the faded side, so they weren’t as deep as I’d like. In the end, this remained a more than watchable image but not one that excelled.

Don’t expect a ton of ambition from the film’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack, as it failed to attempt much ambition. The soundscape primarily focused on music and ambience, without much else to impress.

That became a bit of a surprise, mainly because I anticipated more action and involvement from a caper flick like this. As it stood, the soundfield offered moderate movement and localization but not much that seemed memorable.

Audio quality appeared generally positive, though dialogue could appear a bit iffy. Some of the lines suffered from mediocre recording, but most of the speech appeared reasonably concise.

Music felt lively and peppy, while effects came across as accurate, even if they lacked much to do. This became an acceptable track without many real strengths.

The disc opens with ads for Bent, Overboard, She’s Funny That Way, The Hitman’s Bodyguard and Casual Encounters. We also get the trailer for Con but no other extras appear here.

With a strong cast and a serviceable concept, The Con Is On looked like it could offer a fun romp. Instead, it brings us an unpleasant exercise in witless ugliness. The Blu-ray provides erratic but mostly positive picture and audio with virtually no supplements. Stay away from this genuinely terrible film.

Viewer Film Ratings: 1 Stars Number of Votes: 2
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