Katie Holmes, Jay Mohr, Scott Wolf, Sarah Polley, Desmond Askew, Nathan Bexton, Robert Peters, Timothy Olyphant
Life begins at 3AM.
Swingers director Doug Liman assembles a hip cast in this follow-up to his hit debut. A group of young Californians do drugs, deal drugs, go to raves, have carnal adventures and get in many kinds of trouble over the course of one action-packed night.
$4.706 million on 1563 screens.
English Dolby TrueHD 5.1
French Dolby TrueHD 5.1
Portuguese Dolby TrueHD 5.1
Runtime: 102 min.
Release Date: 8/18/2009
• Audio Commentary with Director Doug Liman and Editor Stephen Mirrone
• “Making Of” Featurette
• 14 Deleted Scenes
• 3 Music Videos
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Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.
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Go [Blu-Ray] (1999)
Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (August 14, 2009)
If you look up “1990s” in the dictionary, Go might be the movie pictured there. With its story of a particular party culture, it just screams “Nineties” to me – or at least “second half of the Nineties”. Whether or not it still holds up a decade later remains to be seen.
To stave off eviction, Ronna (Sarah Polley) works shift after shift as a grocery clerk. To make money, she picks up more time from Simon (Desmond Askew); he wants the time off to make his first-ever visit to Vegas. Adam (Scott Wolf) and Zack (Jay Mohr) needs drugs for an all-night rave, and they usually get their supplies from Simon.
With him in Vegas, they ask Ronna if she has any sources. She says she does and decides to score some extra cash that way. She goes to drug dealer Todd (Timothy Olyphant) but doesn’t have the funds to cover the necessary amount of Ecstasy. She promises to return with the extra money after she sells the drugs to Adam and Zack, but she has to leave collateral: her friend Claire (Katie Holmes).
Complications ensue when Ronna ends up stuck in a drug sting. To escape, she dumps the Ecstasy in the toilet and needs to find some other way to get the money to rescue Claire. In addition to that chapter, we also follow Simon’s adventures in Vegas and what happens with Adam and Zack later in the evening.
When I said that Go feels like a period of its time, I wasn’t kidding. The movie opens with a scene at a rave, for God’s sake. I suppose raves still happen, but boy do they seem stuck in the 90s to me. I also guess that “be-ins” still occur as well, but a movie about them would remain mired in the Sixties.
Because of this emphasis on Ecstasy and the rave, the first third of Go threatens to flop. As Ronna, Polley provides a certain tough charm, and the character has the potential to become interesting, but the movie focuses too much of the rave and the drug use. In particular, a “drug cam” that shows us the stoner point of view seems self-indulgent and off-putting.
The “Ronna” part of the movie fills roughly the first third of Go, and it almost derails the flick; if it continued on the same path the rest of the way, I’d have to write a pretty negative review. However, once the “Ronna” segment ends, we leap back in time to see Simon as he gets Ronna to take his shift.
From there, the film takes us on Simon’s path and we see what happens with him. A similar time shift occurs when we go into the Adam/Zack third of the flick. Because of the drug-dealing elements, the scene in which Ronna takes over Simon’s work schedule proves pivotal, so the movie returns us there every time it wants to launch into a different tale. This isn’t exactly the “Rashomon” structure; the movie tells three different but connected stories, while the “Rashomon” idea looks at the same events from different perspectives. Nonetheless, it’s a clever way to intertwine the various plots.
And it redeems a movie that I thought would be little more than an indulgent look at the party culture of the late 1990s. When we follow Simon, Go takes on a much wilder Tarantino-esque feel – and it also becomes much more interesting. As a character with no impulse control, Simon annoys us, but he also provides entertaining shenanigans. The “Simon” section turns into the best of the bunch.
“Adam/Zack” also works pretty well. It’s not as wild as the “Simon” part, but it throws out some good twists and offers a more overtly comedic sensibility – to a degree, at least. Go is often a pretty dark movie, and that’s what separates it from most of its peers.
Indeed, the 1990s was a fertile time for “one crazy night” movies about teens. In addition to Go, we got flicks such as Dazed and Confused and Can’t Hardly Wait. Though both shared the same kind theme, they took on very different approaches. Dazed was set in the 1970s and offered more of an affectionate look back at the era, while Wait was the kinder, gentler teenybopper adventure.
Both are good, but both are much sunnier than Go. It includes violence, drugs and sex, all in pretty copious amounts. You don’t think anyone will die in the first two movies, whereas here you don’t know if anyone will live.
Which kind of makes Go feel like Tarantino’s take on the teen party movie. That’s a simplification, of course, but not one that the film avoids; the Blu-ray’s case cites a review that calls it the “son of Pulp Fiction”.
Go doesn’t live up to that Tarantino classic. Indeed, for its first third, I don’t even think it’s a very good movie. However, the other two-thirds do a lot to redeem it. The movie remains stuck in its era and has its flaws, but it soars more than it falters.
The Blu-ray Grades: Picture C/ Audio B/ Bonus B-
Go appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The film delivered rather spotty visuals.
Sharpness was inconsistent and never particularly strong. Most of the movie provided acceptable delineation and that was it, as the presentation lacked great detail. No issues with jaggies or shimmering appeared, at least, and the transfer showed no signs of edge enhancement. Source flaws were modest. I saw a couple of minor blemishes but nothing serious.
Despite the film’s lively settings – raves! Vegas! – colors were mediocre. Skin tones tended toward the purple side, and other hues were decent at best; they rarely looked bad, but they also didn’t often deliver much vivacity. Blacks seemed rather inky, and shadows were somewhat murky. Though I never thought the transfer became unappealing, it was too bland for a grade above a “C”.
At least the Dolby TrueHD 5.1 soundtrack of Go was more satisfying. Music dominated the movie and used all five channels well. We didn’t get a ton of discrete material from the songs, but they opened up the mix in a pleasing way.
Effects tended to be more subdued, though some exceptions occurred, especially during the Vegas scenes. A long car chase provided nice movement, and a few other sequences throughout the movie allowed for decent use of the side and rear speakers. The soundscape wasn’t super active, but it utilized the elements well.
Audio quality seemed solid. Music remained the most important element, and the various songs demonstrated fine clarity and range. Bass response was especially good, as the low-end heavy tunes thumped in an appropriate manner. Speech was clear and natural, while effects offered positve definition and accuracy. All of this was good enough for a “B”.
When we shift to extras, we begin with an audio commentary from director Doug Liman and editor Stephen Mirrone. Both sit together for this running, screen-specific look at story and editing, sets and locations, cast and performances, cinematography, music and production design, and a few other issues.
Liman and Mirrone provide a pretty good look at Go. It’s a little more technical than I’d like, as we don’t learn a ton about the actors or the script, but we get enough material of that sort to satisfy. The track gives us an engaging overview of the flick.
A ”Making Of” Featurette runs six minutes, 20 seconds. It includes Liman, writer/producer John August and actors Sarah Polley, Katie Holmes, Timothy Olyphant, Desmond Askew, Taye Diggs, James Duval, Breckin Meyer, Scott Wolf, William Fichtner and Jay Mohr. Produced back in 1999, the program exists to promote the film. It tells us a lot about the story and very little about the production. Skip it.
14 Deleted Scenes last a total of 25 minutes, 26 seconds. These offer a combination of finished sequences and outtakes. All are interesting, but the outtakes are the most fun, as they show some enjoyable improv bits and allow a little of a glimpse behind the scenes.
Next we find three Music Videos. We get clips for No Doubt’s “New” (4:32), Philip Steir’s update of “Magic Carpet Ride” (3:22), and Len’s “Steal My Sunshine” (3:56). While not a great video, “New” at least shows signs of creativity, and its rave theme means it feels connected to the movie even though it provides none of the usual film snippets.
“Ride” gives us a standard combination of flick pieces and performance, but with a twist, as Simon and his pals play the band. It remains unexceptional, but at least that choice makes it a bit more interesting. As a song, I like the bouncy “Sunshine”, but the video’s awful. Len comes across like a meat-headed Fred Durst wannabe, and his presence makes the clip tough to take.
Finally, the disc includes a mix of Previews. It includes promos for Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, The Da Vinci Code, Casino Royale, The Sky Crawlers, and Blood: The Last Vampire. No trailer for Go appears here.
While Go should probably be in a late 1990s time capsule, it still manages to entertain a decade later. The movie suffers from a few more ups and downs than I’d like, but it throws out enough wild antics to keep us interested. The Blu-ray suffers from bland picture quality, but audio seems good, and it features a mix of extras highlighted by a good commentary and a lot of deleted scenes. The mediocre visuals make this a disappointing disc, but it does fine in the other departments.
Viewer Film Ratings: 4.2 Stars
| Number of Votes: 5