by Jef Burnham
Now available on Blu-ray and DVD from Anchor Bay Entertainment.
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Stone is honestly one of the least thrilling pictures I’ve ever seen billed as a thriller. Academy Award-winner Robert De Niro stars as Jack, a parole officer faced with determining whether the cornrow-styling convict, “Stone” (played by Academy Award nominee Edward Norton), should be released on parole. When Stone involves his beautiful wife Lucetta (Milla Jovovich) in the effort to earn Jack’s favor, Jack and Lucetta form a relationship that could ruin Jack’s career mere days before his retirement.
Jack, our protagonist, is absolutely detestable. We have little interest in whether or not he suffers as a result of his interactions with Stone and his wife. In fact, based on his actions in the opening of the film when he threatens to hurl his sleeping daughter out a window, we are apt to wish him great harm instead. The filmmakers attempt to compensate for Jack’s unlikeability by showing him eulogizing his brother early on, but the effect is negligible.
In addition, Stone never feels like a real threat. He undergoes a spiritual awakening that, although initially staged to impress Jack, proves to be the real thing. But a thriller needs a threat, right? Perhaps we are to see Jack as the threat to Stone? Perhaps. Only, the worst he can do to Stone is recommend that he not be granted parole. But the next year, Jack would have retired and Stone would simply try again with a new officer. And as for Jack’s relationship with Lucetta, Stone set the whole thing up himself, so there’s no harm there really. Indeed, the only way one could find this film thrilling is if they view Stone as the threat. However, such a reaction is entirely contingent on the viewer ignoring Stone’s aforementioned spiritual journey and being prejudiced against inmates and those who speak in street vernacular.
So unless you meet the film’s disgusting prerequisites, you will not find it thrilling or suspenseful in the least. This might not be a bad thing necessarily if the film weren’t so unbearably dull, De Niro and Norton’s performances weren’t so incredibly strained, and the themes so haphazardly tacked on. Stone is simply a bad movie.
Special features on the release include making-of featurette and the theatrical trailer.
Jef Burnham is a writer and educator living in Chicago, Illinois. While waging war on mankind from a glass booth in the parking lot of a grocery store, Jef managed to earn a degree in Film & Video from Columbia College Chicago, and is now the Editor-in-Chief of FilmMonthly.com.
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