Antwone Fisher – Blu-ray Review
By Frankie Dees Mar 9, 2009, 15:35 GMT
Denzel Washington makes his triumphant directorial debut and Derek Luke shines in his first big-screen role in this gripping "story of survival and triumph!" (Clay Smith, Access Hollywood) Inspired by the true life experiences of its title character, "Antwone Fisher" tells the compelling story of a troubled sailor (Luke) who is ordered to see a naval psychiatrist (Washington) about his volatile temper. Little does he know that his first step ...more
Introducing Derek Luke and marking Denzel Washington's directorial debut (who also stars), a strong cast elevates the sometimes sensationalized true story that just happens to be a perfect made-for-Hollywood amalgam of 'An Officer and a Gentleman' and 'Good Will Hunting'.
Antwone Fisher was working security at Sony Pictures when his story spread and a producer got so enraptured by it, that he set up an office for him and had him write a screenplay. It was a little rough around the edges but it was tailor-made for Hollywood with a lot on-the-sleeve emotions and life lessons to be learned. Getting picked up by Denzel, he chose to not only star but direct it as well - only in Hollywood can a security guard get his story told by Denzel Washington.
Derek Luke stars as Fisher, a U.S. Navy Petty Officer who is constantly getting into fights due to an inner rage that seems to be constantly on fire. His numerous conflicts find him having to visit naval psychiatrist, Dr. Jerome Davenport (Washington) who gets only three sessions to determine if Fisher deserves another chance in the Navy or if he should be discharged.
Despite these conditions, Fisher wants nothing to do with these sessions and is forced to attend; when he does, he chooses to sit there silently and wait Davenport out (this first half shamelessly draws upon the beats of 'Good Will Hunting'). Eventually, Fisher relents and begins to tell stories about his extremely troubled Cleveland upbringing.
Through flashbacks, we learn that his father was murdered before he was born and his mother abandoned him where he bounced around orphanages until he fell in with Mrs. Tate (Novella Nelson) and things turned even uglier where he was physically, verbally and sexually abused. Forced to run away, he joined the Navy but these past experiences, of course, played a part in how he has to face adult relationships.
After the three sessions, Davenport and Fisher has made significant progress and a strong trust had been developed between the two. Fisher looks up to Davenport and his family as the family he never had but Davenport comes to realize that Fisher has become to dependent on him and that if ever expects to be fully happy, he'll need to find closure with the mom that abandoned him.
It's a fascinating true story that just happens to seem like it's been cobbled together from past, similar hits. The therapy sessions reek of 'Hunting' and the military aspects and inner rage of our young Navy Petty Officer recalls Richard Gere's Zach Mayo.
Luckily, both Derek Luke and Denzel Washington are strong enough performers to breath some new life into some of these conventions but only just - I was definitely moved by the story but I couldn't help but feel a sense of deja vu by it all.
The 2.35:1 1080p transfer is par for the course for a recent theatrical release with strong detail and good representation of the somewhat muted color palette of the film. It won't wow you but I doubt you were expecting it too. The same with the English DTS-HD Master track.
Special Features include a commentary from Denzel Washington and Producer Todd Black and provides some good insight from Washington on helming his first feature. That Antwone Fisher wasn't a participant is odd considering his involvement with the project.
'Meeting Antwone Fisher' is a 15-minute interview with the man himself, 'Making of' is 22-minutes of cast/crew interviews and behind-the-scenes, 'Hollywood and the Navy' is quick piece on the Navy's involvement and to round things off is the theatrical trailer.
Blu-ray specs are competent if not overly impressive so it really comes down to the film. I've seen 'Antwone Fisher' a couple times now and have responded to it both times as a sincere, sometimes powerful, sometimes manipulative, story that may or may not instill a feeling that you've seen this all before. Definitely well-made and well-acted, though, so I suggest a rental first.