A Long Way Down (Blu-ray Review)

A Long Way DownIn this touching comedy based on the acclaimed novel by Nick Hornby, A LONG WAY DOWN centers on four strangers (Pierce Brosnan, Toni Collette, Aaron Paul and Imogen Poots) who decide to end it all on New Year’s Eve. However, when they meet by chance on a London rooftop, they agree to halt their plans for six weeks. Along the way, they discover that even accidental, dysfunctional families make life worth living.  




A Long Way Down


A Long Way Down is the new ensemble film featuring Pierce Brosnan, Toni Collette, Imogen Poots, and Aaron Paul. Martin (Brosnan) is has a served a stint in prison, lost his family, because as a high-powered television personality, was having sex with an underage girl. Now that he’s come to grips with what he’s done he’s off to jump off a building. Martin’s suicide attempt is stumbled upon by Maureen (Collette), who engages Martin in some simple conversation. This segues into an amusing switch, because Maureen seems to want to jump over the edge herself now. Not so fast, because here comes Jess (Poots) who tries to fly right over the edge before being held back by the group. All this unfolds as J.J. (Paul) watches what is going on. This is all happening on New Year’s Eve, by the way. Happy New Year indeed!

That intro is happens to be one of the weirdest and hyper kinetic starts to a film that I can remember. I was wondering if it was real life, because people are trying to kill themselves and other people keep coming into frame. It reminded me of a comedy skit. In any event the group of 4 troubled souls decided to talk some more and get to know each other on the ground. They strike up a very cautious friendship that almost disintegrates when Jess overdoses at a club. Of course it’s a misunderstanding, because Jess uses drugs all the time and that never happened before. From that day henceforth the band of misfits decide that no suicides will occur before Valentine’s Day. Not a mass suicide pack just that no one member of the fellowship may take his or her life until then. Oh, and I should have mentioned that JJ’s character has a brain tumor, Jess is the daughter of a politician who is also getting back at here boyfriend and Maureen has issues at home with her disabled son.

Honestly, on the surface, A Long Way Down would not be my cup of tea. The only reason why I agreed to review the film was, because I was interested in the cast involved. I’m a fan of them all, with Aaron Paul being at the bottom. Breaking Bad was great but he was the weak link of the show and I thought Need For Speed was unwatchable, so how bad could this have been? I’m glad to say that it’s not bad at all. Is it a classic? No, but very few ever are. What elevates the material is the cast. I haven’t seen such great chemistry and folks having fun since the A-Team movieYou can really tell that everyone involved on A Long Way Down is happy to be there. Everyone literally glows. I should also mention cameos by Sam Neill, who is Jess’s dimwitted politician father and Rosamund Pike, who I believe has taken over hosting duties after Martin fell from grace.

The film deals with suicide and its implications, which is very surprising, and I see how the filmmakers and actors themselves have to navigate through the material. It works for the most part even if some of the details of each of their personal lives are overlooked. You could probably make a whole other movie with Martin’s troubles or a movie of the week featuring Jess and her partying ways. As a group effort the film is lively, light (but dark, too) and brisk. A Long Way Down is based off of the Nick Hornby novel. Hornby also wrote the novels for About a Boy and High FidelityA Long Way Down in terms of film quality doesn’t rank as high as those other two adaptations but it’s also not a bad film per se.

If you’re a fan of the previously mentioned material in its film counter part (I haven’t read any of Hornsby’s books) then it couldn’t hurt to watch A Long Way Down on Blu-ray. It is a surprisingly fun film, all things considered, but you’ll want to watch the actors interact, because that’s the film’s strong suit.


A Long Way Down


Encoding: AVC MPEG-4

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1

Clarity/Detail: Color me amazed but Blu-rays like A Long Way Down are what the high definition format is all about! This is a reference video presentation if I ever saw one. Contrast and sharpness levels are prime and I notice zero problems with the overall transfer. Have I used the word exquisite yet?

Depth: Get ready to be swallowed up by the vibrant, yes, even in London, transfer as our characters move from locale to locale – it’s as if the visual palette adjusts itself to their overall moods.

Black Levels: There are a few scenes shot at night but the transfer on this film is so great that you will most certainly see that some of the scenes shot at night were actually shot on a green screen sound stage. That’s how clean and clear this transfer is.

Color Reproduction: The colors on this Blu-ray rock. Everyone dresses great and some of the outfits worn by Imogen Poots really show off in great detail in high definition. Taste the rainbow, if you will.

Flesh Tones: Everyone looks healthy and vibrant even at their lowest. No complaints here.

Noise/Artifacts: What’s the universal language for NONE?


A Long Way Down


Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD MA 5.1

Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish

Dynamics: Yeah, A Long Way Down doesn’t dream reference audio but this IS Magnolia we’re talking about and they don’t skimp on the lossless audio and neither did the sound engineers when they mixed the film for Blu-ray. It’s a great sounding film that never gets bogged down by useless goings on in the mix.

Low Frequency Extension: The LFE channel is grounded and only comes into play when it needs to give the proceedings a little kick.

Surround Sound Presentation: The surround sound levels are stellar and bustle in the very busy streets of London. Traffic, ambience, etc., are handled well in the rear mix.

Dialogue Reproduction: Dialogue levels are stupendous and everyone is as audible as can be even when folks decide to argue. There are plenty of arguments that never get mushed in this frontal audio mix.


A Long Way Down


Special features on this Blu-ray are plentiful, in a way, but short. The Blu-ray has deleted scenes, interviews, etc. It’s the same stuff you’ve always seen in other Blu-ray editions. The highlight would be the outtakes, because they’re done right.

  • Deleted Scenes(HD) – Personally, I think these scenes could have been left in the final film just to kind of give it that extra bit of depth. I get that the final picture has a bit more franticness but even so these deleted scenes wouldn’t have hurt that much to be left in. Oh well.
  • Outtakes(HD) – Here are the bloopers and outtakes done right with the appropriate amount of profanity! *bleep!*
  • Making of A Long Way Down: Jumping in with Cast & Crew(HD) – Here’s a small interview segment with author Nick Hornby and the cast and how they ended up on this project.
  • On Toppers Tower: A Behind the Scenes View(HD) – You didn’t really think they were on that tower did you? My lips are sealed.
  • Working with the Director(HD) – Here’s a bit of a fluff piece at how wonderful the director was, blah, blah.
  • Adapting the Story (HD) – More fluffiness as the actors talk about what attracted them to the film. Yeah, it couldn’t have possibly have been the $$$, right?
  • AXS TV: A Look at A Long Way Down(HD) – This is the usual AXS TV “promotional” featurette that basically plugs AXS. You’ve already seen what was featured in this self-serving clip.
  • Trailer (HD) – Here’s the theatrical trailer presented in high definition.


A Long Way Down


 A Long Way Down is an entertaining romp of a film, with an extremely likable cast of characters. That’s the real star of the show – their extreme likability when they’re together, which is every other scene. If the material didn’t revolve around potential suicide I suspect it would have been an even better film. The Blu-ray on this Magnolia release is great, from the video and audio specs, to the extras, which contain one of the better gag reels I’ve seen since Supernatural: Season 10. This is how you put together a gag reel. Anyways, A Long Way Down is recommended.



Order A Long Way Down on Blu-ray!

A Long Way Down


Gerard Iribe is a writer/reviewer for Why So Blu?. He has also reviewed for other sites like DVD Talk, Project-Blu, and CHUD, but Why So Blu? is where the heart is. You can follow his incoherency on Twitter: @giribe

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