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Morgan O'Neill
John Cusack, Jennifer Carpenter, Dallas Roberts, Mae Whitman, Sonya Walger, Mageina Tovah, Katherine Waterston, Gary Anthony Williams
Writing Credits:
Morgan O'Neill, Paul A. Leyden

Detective Mike Fletcher, a rugged and obsessive police officer, and his partner Kelsey Walker, are on the trail of a serial killer who prowls the streets targeting young streetwalkers. When his teenage daughter disappears, Fletcher discovers that the killer has kidnapped her after mistaking her for a prostitute. Fletcher's obsession goes into overdrive when he drops all professional restraint to get the killer and save his daughter.

Box Office:
$25 million.

Rated R

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1/16X9
English Dolby Digital 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 104 min.
Price: $27.95
Release Date: 2/19/2013

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The Factory (2012)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (February 13, 2013)

Though best known for romantic comedies like Say Anything, John Cusack has recently shown a tendency toward darker fare like 2012’s The Raven. That trend continues with 2013’s direct-to-video thriller The Factory.

Over the last three years, someone (Dallas Roberts) has stalked and abducted prostitutes in Buffalo, New York. Along with partner Kelsey Walker (Jennifer Carpenter), Detective Mike Fletcher (Cusack) obsesses over the case, much to the detriment of his relationship with wife Shelley (Sonya Walger), teen daughter Abby (Mae Whitman) and young son Jed (Vincent Messina); Mike works such long hours that he barely sees his family.

Abby sneaks out of the house to visit boyfriend Tad (Michael Trevino) but finds herself alone on the street after he dumps her. Along comes the serial kidnapper – who mistakes Abby for a prostitute – and the teenager ends up abducted. When Mike finds out, this makes his quest personal and sends him into overdrive to find the villain and save his daughter.

Given the plethora of psychopath-based movies from over the years, that genre can be tough to explore in a creative, unusual manner. Does Factory manage to add anything new to the subject? Not especially – while it’s a decent thriller, it never threatens to become anything memorable.

Part of the problem comes from the lazy, indifferent pacing. For a veteran detective, Mike doesn’t seem to do a lot of detecting. It feels like most of his breaks plop onto his lap, so he usually just stumbles along until we reach the film’s inevitable confrontation/conclusion. The story doesn’t give us much in which to invest beyond the creepiness of what the bad guy does with the girls.

Even that side of things doesn’t feel all that interesting. Essentially “Carl” is a variant on Jame Gumb from Silence of the Lambs. He imprisons his victims for a purpose that slowly emerges; Carl uses them for reasons that differ from Gumb’s, but the set-up feels similar.

Even with the lack of creativity, I do think Factory delivers a mildly satisfying thriller. Cusack does nice work as Mike; just as in The Raven, he elevates the material. The story comes with enough turns to keep us moderately interested, even if the final twist seems semi-predictable – and fairly absurd.

All of this means that The Factory fails to be a genuinely good movie, but it also never becomes poor, either – at least for fans of the genre. Although I find little here to praise, I think the flick has some minor merits.

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

The Factory appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. The Factory delivered a pretty positive presentation.

Sharpness was good for the format. Some inevitable softness materialized at times, but that related to the limitations of SD-DVD more than anything else, so overall definition seemed satisfactory. I saw no signs of jagged edges or shimmering, and edge enhancement was absent. Source flaws failed to mar the presentation; it always was clean and fresh.

Colors looked fine. The film opted for a stylized palette, with an emphasis on chilly blues to match the winter Buffalo climate; some ambers also materialized. Within those parameters, the hues were well-reproduced. Blacks came across as dark and firm, while shadows were pretty good. Some interiors seemed a little murky, but those shots weren’t too off-putting. Overall, this was a pleasing presentation.

As for the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of The Factory, it was good but not exceptional. Some of that stemmed from the movie’s emphasis on ambience over action theatrics. Occasionally some involving material emerged – such as during chases or a blizzard – and these sequences opened up the room in a satisfying way. They didn’t crop up with great frequency, though, so don’t expect a ton of active material. The track created a reasonable soundscape but nothing scintillating.

The quality of the audio was fine. Music showed nice range and definition, as the movie’s score worked well. Effects appeared acceptably clear and natural. Speech came across as distinctive and natural. In the end, this turned into a “B” soundtrack.

The disc opens with ads for Beautiful Creatures, Cloud Atlas, The Dark Knight Returns and Argo. No other extras pop up here.

Despite a good lead performance from John Cusack, The Factory never rises above a level of averageness. It conveys a suitably creepy atmosphere and has some interesting twists, but it loses points due to lazy pacing and other deficits. The DVD offers pretty good picture and audio but lacks supplements. A pedestrian thriller, The Factory seems like passable “lazy afternoon” fodder.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2 Stars Number of Votes: 2
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