Jagged Edge

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson


Columbia-TriStar, widescreen 1.85:1/16x9, standard 1.33:1, languages: English Dolby Surround [CC], subtitles: English, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Korean, Thai, double side-single layer, 28 chapters, Production Notes, Theatrical Trailers, Talent Files, rated R, 108 min., $24.95, street date 5/2/2000.

Studio Line

Directed by Richard Marquand. Starring Jeff Bridges, Glenn Close, Peter Coyote, Robert Loggia.

A grisly homicide…a sensational trial…a forbidden affair. It's Jagged Edge, a razor-sharp suspense thriller about crime, punishment and passion. Jeff Bridges is the prime suspect and Glen Close plays the attorney who falls in love with him. When a San Francisco socialite is viciously murdered, her publisher-husband, Jack Forrester (Bridges), is accused of committing the crime. Teddy Barnes (Close) decides to defend the charming, manipulative Jack, only to disregard legal ethics by having an affair with him. With the help of private eye Sam Ranson (Robert Loggia), she takes on a ruthless D.A. (Peter Coyote) who's using the case as a political steppingstone. However, a startling revelation puts Teddy in jeopardy of becoming the next victim of the Jagged Edge.

Picture/Sound/Extras (B-/C/D)

How did a hack like screenwriter Joe Eszterhaz ever have a successful career in Hollywood, anyway? He was the scribe behind such tacky "adult thriller" fare as Basic Instinct and Sliver, not to mention classics like Showgirls and Flashdance.

1985's Jagged Edge was actually his follow-up to that last working-class dance epic, and on the surface it appears to be a step up in the world. JE provides a solid cast, with Jeff Bridges and Glenn Close in the leads, unlike Flashdance - which used actors who were complete unknowns prior to the film's release (and most of them stayed that way). JE also featured a semi-established director; Richard Marquand previously helmed Return of the Jedi, which seriously bolstered his resume, whereas Flashdance's Adrian Lyne had only led 1980 teen-smut comedy Foxes before his big hit. As such, all of the signs were right for JE to mark Eszterhaz's move into big-time, quality Hollywood.

While he clearly earned a spot among movie hitmakers - JE did fairly well at the box office (although IMDB indicate it only grossed $1.8 million, which has to be a mistake) - that's about all that this stinker achieved, and it was an unfortunate achievement, since it set the table for plenty more "steamy" thrillers to follow, both from Eszterhaz himself and plenty of imitators. What's the difference between JE and those crummy sex-thrillers they run incessantly on Cinemax? The budget and the cast; other than that, they're exactly the same things.

Actually, I would have preferred some ludicrous hunka junka like Mirror Images or Fatal Pursuit - at least those losers would offer some solid female nudity. No such pleasures abound in JE; it's just a dull, predictable, passionless attempt at a mystery.

Unfortunately, there's no mystery to be found in it. The plot attempts to throw us off course, but it's patently obvious whodunnit from the very start of the film. Marquand's bland direction doesn't help; the movie just plods along from scene to scene with little coherence or excitement. The actors don't seem very enthused about the proceedings either; I like both Bridges and Close but found them to be exceedingly bland and forgettable here.

All of JE seems forced and phony. The thriller aspects are not suspenseful or compelling, and the romantic parts are passionless and flat. The entire proceeding at least seems generally competent and professional - no one actually embarrasses themselves - but all in all, Jagged Edge is a completely forgettable experience.

Jagged Edge appears in both its original theatrical aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 and in a fullscreen on this double-sided, single-layered DVD; the letterboxed image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Only the widescreen version was reviewed for this article. The movie looks decent but seems pretty bland.

Sharpness appears generally good; although some mild softness enters the equation at times, most scenes seem crisp and well-defined. Overall, exteriors look best, as they are fairly vivid and lively, but most interiors - with the exception of some courtroom scenes - appear drab and murky. This tendency appears in many movies, and it's natural, since natural light situations resolve better on film; however, the contrast seemed greater than usual, and the interior situations looked more flat than I'd expect.

Slight moiré effects appear from time, but the only jagged edges I noted were in the title, and anamorphic downconversion problems seemed very rare. The print itself looked a bit gritty at times, and I saw a few speckles, but for the most part it seemed clean and fairly fresh.

Colors appeared generally muted - mainly thanks to the overall flatness of the film - but they were acceptable. Black levels probably were the best part of the image, as they consistently looked deep and rich; check out some of Close's black suits to see what I mean. Shadow detail suffered from the general drabness of the picture but seemed adequate. Jagged Edge looked dated but decent.

Also acceptable but even more dated is the film's Dolby Surround 2.0 mix. This track seemed pretty heavily anchored to the center channel for much of the film. Some ambient audio appeared from the sides, but it was a fairly narrow soundfield that lacked much expansiveness. The surrounds were used solely to gently reinforce the score and effects; I knew it was there but it lacked any kind of real presence.

Audio quality appeared bland and thin for the most part. The synthesizer score - which is used very sporadically - displayed some depth through adequate bass but tended to sound pretty stiff nonetheless. Dialogue appeared intelligible and clear but it also betrayed some definite flatness and lacked a natural, warm quality, and effects were similarly cold and flat. The audio seemed fairly typical for its period, but it's not a good track in today's terms.

Jagged Edge lacks substantial supplements. We find four trailers, but not one for JE itself; instead, we receive previews for two Bridges films (Against All Odds and Arlington Road) and two Close offerings (The Natural and Air Force One). The "Talent Files" seem sketchy and inadequate, which is typical of Columbia-Tristar DVDs. Finally, some brief but generally informative production notes appear in the DVD's booklet. One note: don't read them before you watch the movie, as they detail the ending.

Not that such foreknowledge will actually ruin anything, for surprises are few and far between in Jagged Edge. How this thin and lifeless "thriller" ever found an audience is beyond me; I guess we were more easily entertained in the Eighties. The DVD provides pretty mediocre sound and picture, and doesn't offer any compelling extras. Jagged Edge is a clunker that should stay on the shelves.

Related Sites

Current as of 5/1/2000

Amazon.com--Purchase the DVD at special discount.
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