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Henry-Alex Rubin
Jai Courtney, Nat Wolff, Leighton Meester
Writing Credits:
Henry-Alex Rubin, Sean Mullin

A police officer who serves in the Marine Corps Reserves is faced with an ethical dilemma when it comes to helping his brother in prison.

Rated R.

Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 99 min.
Price: $24.99
Release Date: 12/3/2019

• Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Henry-Alex Rubin
• “Loyalty and Brotherhood” Featurette
• “Where Devotion Lies” Featurette
• Deleted Scenes
• Previews


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Semper Fi [Blu-Ray] (2019)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (December 10, 2019)

Given its title, one might expect 2019’s Semper Fi to bring a combat film. While it does involve the military, the movie opts for a tale set mainly on the home front.

Set in 2005, we meet Chris “Cal” Callahan (Jai Courtney), a straight-arrow small town police officer who hangs out with a rowdy crowd of long-time friends. This group includes his younger half-brother Teddy – aka “Oyster” (Nat Wolff) - and the whole clan serves as Marine reservists to help pay the bills.

During a bar brawl, Oyster accidentally kills a man. Though he initially attempts to flee, Cal convinces Oyster to face the music.

However, Cal’s faith in the criminal justice system proves misplaced, as Oyster receives an unjust prison sentence. Cal seeks to help his brother, no matter the cost.

Though I stated Fi doesn’t provide a war movie, that doesn’t prove entirely true. During the film’s second act, Cal and his pals get called up to fight and spend time in Iraq.

However, this portion of the movie proves fairly minor – and fairly superfluous at that. Really, Cal’s stint in Iraq exists mainly as a plot device to keep him physically separated from Oyster for an extended period.

This becomes a story point because Oyster’s prison time goes ugly, and if Cal can see his brother, matters theoretically proceed differently. By the time Cal returns from combat, we find Oyster in a bad situation, and that motivates the third act.

Sort of. Honestly, Semper casts such a broad net that it becomes difficult to pin down any one concrete narrative thrust.

Not that a movie can’t attempt multiple threads, but Semper pursues far too many threads for such a short tale. At less than 100 minutes, it bites off way more than it can chew.

Really, we get like five movies crammed into one here. We look at the issues between the brothers as well as a combat flick and a prison movie and a view of small-time life and some romance and the after-effects of war, all crammed into one too-short package.

Semper fares best during its opening act, mainly because it seems focused at that time. We concentrate on the Cal/Oyster relationship, and the movie shows real promise.

After that, though, matters become too broad and inconsistent. In its eagerness to cram a mini-series worth of material into 99 minutes, Semper sells short its characters and situations.

That disappoints, as the opening act really does show promise. The actors embody their parts well, and the story looks like it can bring a decent take on its themes.

Unfortunately, Semper Fi goes off the rails before too long, and it loses impact. With a nearly random sense of story and characters, the end result falls flat.

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

Semper Fi appears in an aspect ratio of 2.39:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The movie provided a fairly solid presentation.

Sharpness usually worked well. Though shots displayed mild softness, the majority of the movie gave us fairly accurate, precise visuals.

I saw no shimmering or jaggies, and edge haloes remained absent. The movie also displayed no print flaws.

Semper Fi opted for a fairly typical mix of orange and teal, though not cranked to absurd extremes. Within those constraints, colors looked appropriate.

Blacks appeared dark and dense, and shadows boasted good delineation. Low-light scenes seemed smooth and well-rendered. This turned into a largely effective transfer.

I also felt pleased with the engaging DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Semper Fi. Unsurprisingly, combat/action scenes added the most zing to the proceedings, as those cranked out vivid material from all around the spectrum.

In addition, the mix brought a good sense of place and ambience throughout the film. Music showed nice stereo presence, and effects meshed together well. These moved smoothly across speakers and formed a quality environment for the material.

Audio quality seemed satisfying. Music was clear and full, while effects offered accurate, dynamic information.

Speech appeared natural and concise, without edginess or other issues. The soundtrack fit the story on display and became a convincing partner to the visuals.

As we shift to extras, we find an audio commentary from writer/director Henry-Alex Rubin. He brings a running, screen-specific look at story/characters, cast and performances, sets and locations, stunts and actions, effects, music and other domains.

Overall, Rubin brings a good view of the production. Occasionally he digresses into a little too much praise for those involved, but he still manages to create a largely informative chat.

Two featurettes follow, and Loyalty and Brotherhood runs 16 minutes, 54 seconds. It provides notes from Rubin, co-writer Sean Mullin, producers Karina Miller and David Lancaster, military advisor Rudy Reyes, and actors Jai Courtney, Nat Wolff, Arturo Castro, and Finn Wittrock.

“Loyalty” covers the project’s roots and development, story and characters, cast and performances, shooting military elements, photography and Rubin’s approach as director. Despite a few useful insights, most of “Loyalty” offers praise and fluff.

With Where Devotion Lies, we get a six-minute, 55-second piece that includes comments from Rubin, Miller, Mullin, Courtney, Wittrock, Lancaster, Castro and Wolff. “Lies” looks at the movie’s themes and connections. It becomes another fairly superficial program.

Four Deleted Scenes run six minutes, nine seconds. We get “Front Lawn” (3:21), “Cold Pizza” (0:21), “Clara Husband” (1:00) and “Jaeger and Clara” (1:27).

All three provide extra character info. None seem especially useful, though the two Clara scenes expand a tertiary role in a decent manner.

The disc opens with ads for Midway and Rambo: Last Blood. No trailer for Semper appears here.

A second disc brings a DVD copy of Semper Fi. It includes the same extras as the Blu-ray.

Though Semper Fi starts well, it soon loses its way. With too many story points shoved into too little running time, the film becomes inconsistent and ineffective. The Blu-ray brings fairly good picture and audio along with a few bonus materials. Semper Fi tries to fit too much into a short span and it suffers as a result

Viewer Film Ratings: 2 Stars Number of Votes: 1
0 3:
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