Wild Card (Blu-ray Review)

Wild-CardLegendary action star Jason Statham (The Expendables franchise, Transporter franchise) headlines the action-packed thriller Wild Card, showing its hand on Blu-ray (plus Digital HD) and DVD (plus Digital) on March 31st from Lionsgate Home Entertainment. The film is currently available via On Demand. An extended version of the film, featuring 10 additional minutes not previously seen will also be available on Digital HD on the same date.  Featuring an all-star cast including Michael Angarano (Cinemax’s “The Knick”), Milo Ventimiglia (TV’s “Heroes”), Dominik García-Lorido (STARZ’s “Magic City”), Anne Heche (HBO’s “Hung”), Sofia Vergara (TV’s “Modern Family”), Max Casella (HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire”) and Jason Alexander (TV’s “Seinfeld”), with Hope Davis (TV’s “Allegiance”) and Stanley Tucci (The Hunger Gamesfranchise), Wild Card is “Statham’s coolest action flick since The Transporter” (Comingsoon.net).

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Nick Wild is a Las Vegas bodyguard with lethal professional skills and a personal gambling problem. When a sadistic thug beats his friend, Nick strikes back, only to find out the thug is the son of a powerful mob boss. Suddenly Nick is plunged into the criminal underworld, chased by enforcers and wanted by the mob. Having raised the stakes, Nick has one last play to change his fortunes…and this time, it’s all or nothing.

This is a remake or based off the same novel as a Burt Reynolds film called Heat (Also the title of the novel) from the 80s.  I was very much looking forward to Wild Card because Heat was a favorite among my roommates and I in college.  One of them found it in the $5 bin one summer after we had just enjoyed another Reynolds’ classic Malone! (We rented it because the tag was “Ex-Cop, Ex-CIA, Ex-plosive!”).  If you’re looking for a rollicking good time, seeing Reynolds play a latino, dress in silly outfits and have some applaud-worthy over the top action sequences, check that film out!  I was pleased to see this one really retained a lot of that story and even some of the dialogue (The “I’ve been shit on, shot at” line is a fave of mine).  Another fun fact, we were so into Reynolds’ Heat, I made a radio trailer for it as a project in my audio class that summer.

Obviously Jason Statham is probably less convincing than Burt Reynolds as an Hispanic guy, so the last name goes from Escalante to Wild so they can make an action movie title.  Statham is his regular self here.  The reason you pick up the movie to begin with.  He delivers some good one liners and also tries his chops at some comedy.  Action-wise, he’s gets his normal set of punches and kicks in and it feels like business as usual.

He’s supported by a surprisingly big group of names in the cast.  I’m not talking large movie stars but plenty of well known character actors and televisions actors surround him.  But, one look at the film, and if you know a thing or two about how movies are made, you can see how they made this work out.  Most of these supporting players are limited to one or two scenes, and said scenes take place in the same location.  You can easily see that Anne Heche, Sofia Vergara, Hope Davis and Jason Alexander probably took a nice paycheck to just spend a day or two in Vegas and film some scenes.  Its fine and it works, but if you’re exciting about checking out people like Vergara or Stanley Tucci, they’re both gone from the film not too long after they’ve shown up.

Director Simon West had a promising start to his action resume with Con Air (Shut up, that movie is awesome sauce) but has since sort gone on to make an assembly line of stinkers both high profile and forgotten.  I may have viewed this film as “average at best”, but this winds up being one of West’s best efforts and better one in a long time.  While the action scenes are limited and feature just “up to par” fights that blend together, West does make interesting choices elsewhere.  I really like how he moves a scene to the next by intercutting shots seamlessly into the end of the one at hand.

I mentioned the action scenes blending together.  There are 3 big ones and they all are pretty much straight up fist fights with guns present just to be thwarted by Wild (He doesn’t use weapons).  Its not really action, but a sequence in which Nick Black Jack’s his way to over half a million dollars turns into one of the most intense moments.  The blending action hampers the film’s ending as my wife and I were stunned when the credits began rolling as we thought there was going to be more or at least another action sequence.  It didn’t feel like it was over and the last action sequence to ramp up anything and felt just like the rest.  The Burt Reynolds one actually had him running through a gauntlet of things and proved a much more satisfying ending.

Wild Card isn’t much to write home about.  I may have liked it more than most because I had familiarity and fondness to the film that was being remade.  It came and went without a peep a little over a month ago, putting another box office dud on Statham’s resume.  But, to be fair, his genre is something that is more of a niche thing nowadays.  But, he won’t have to worry, Furious 7 and Spy will be the biggest hits of his career this year and this one’s box office performance will be forgotten like this film may be.

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Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1

Clarity/Detail:  The transfer on this one proves to be a sharp and crisp looking picture.  While looking bold, it never crosses into a full on vibrant look, opting more to keep it a little toned down and natural looking.  Details on stuff like the felt on a card table, smudges on a drink glass and the texture of scissors all come through very nicely.

Depth:  Very good depth here as front and background images come across cleanly and very little blurriness is present.  Movement is smooth and characters and objects look free and full in their environments.

Black Levels:  Blacks are rich.  This is a very shaded movie.  No real crushing or lack of detail is present, but there does always feel like this darkness is present on screen.

Color Reproduction:  With Vegas they could have gone ballistic with some vibrant coloring, but this holds itself back and only will over pop if the extremely well scenes allow (Casear’s Palace lobby).  Most of the times, colors are rich and full, but hold themselves to looking lifelike.

Flesh Tones: Skin tones are natural, consistent and very high resolution from any distance.  Dried blood, stubble, wrinkles, makeup, you name it, are all visible at any distance on this transfer.

Noise/Artifacts:  Clean.

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

Subtitles: English, English SDH, Spanish

Dynamics:  Wild Card manages to make for a nice distinct viewing experience.  The film has some nice sounding effects with its punches and smashing to go along with a solid vocal track and a score that work and never overlaps anything.

Low Frequency Extension:  Punches, glass smashing, door knocking and gunfire gets a nice “kick” from the subwoofer.

Surround Sound Presentation:  This one manages to give you good feel for both the quiet outskirts of Las Vegas as well as the loud busy casino.  Interiors gets some slots and digital machine sounds filling your backside.  The front channels manage to keep up with the action going across your screen.

Dialogue Reproduction: Dialogue is center-heavy and features a nice loud, crisp and clean sound.

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Wild Card comes with an UltraViolet Digital Copy of the film.

Audio Commentary

  • With Director Simon West

Script Vignette (HD, 5:17) – A brief little making of, features interviews with the actors, director and producer.

Original Sin: Las Vegas And The Characters Of Wild Card (HD, 16:26) – Cast and crew discuss some of the main players in the film.  Mainly Nick, Holly, Danny, Cyrus as well as go over some of the 1 scene wonders.

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Wild Card is a pretty average film that ultimately will leave you a little unsatisfied in the end.  It delivers some of the required Statham goods, but ultimately falls somewhere in a generic middle of his catalog.  As a remake of Heat, its a bit better of an overall film, but I have to give that the Reynolds’ adventure has a much more satisfying climax.  This Blu-ray however, is technically marvelous with a strong decent side of extras.  Ultimately, this is a really solid rental for a Saturday night and maybe a random purchase for fans later on down the line when its price point moves down to $5-10.



Brandon is the host, producer, writer and editor of The Brandon Peters Show (thebrandonpetersshow.com). He is also the Moderator/MC of the Live Podcast Stage and on the Podcast Awards Committee for PopCon (popcon.us). In the past 10 years at Why So Blu, Brandon has amassed over 1,500 reviews of 4K, Blu-ray and DVD titles.

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