DVD Review: Control

Thanks to the intensity of Ray Liotta, "Control" is a violent crime movie that grabs you by the throat in the opening credits and doesn’t let go until the end. It is the story of whether a very bad man can change his life for the better thanks to modern medicine and his own will.

The movie stars Liotta (Narc and Goodfellas) as career criminal and sociopath Lee Ray Olivier who is put to death by lethal injection only to wake and find he has been given a second chance at life. Willem Dafoe (Spiderman and The Clearing) plays Dr. Miles Copeland the designer of an experimental drug that he believes can change a criminal like Liotta and make him a average citizen. Liotta, laying on a morgue slab, is offered a choice: sign up as a human guinea pig for the drug or receive the real lethal injection.

From there the movie begins to show the sins of Liotta’s past and how the drug forces him to deal with what he has done for the first time in his life. Dafoe does an excellent job in matching Liotta’s violent intensity with a calming doctor’s tone while at the same time revealing he too has pain in the past that he has yet to move from. The death of Daffoe’s son caused the breakup of his marriage and is the driving force for him developing the drug. This one sided motivation makes Dafoe blinded to any setbacks Liotta shows and pushes him to move the program forward regardless of the dangers it might bring.

Liotta does an excellent job of showing change in a character and bringing a man the audience hates at the beginning to someone you truly are caring for by the end credits. There are a couple of scenes that seem forced in the beginning stages of the movie and Liotta’s transformation. However, those scenes payoff and keep you guessing whether Liotta is truly transforming into a new man or just playing along to taste freedom.

When the drug trial moves to phase two, Liotta is returned to society with $300 to his name and a new identity. He is forced for the first time to live “crime free” and see if he can withstand the normal pressures of life. Once this happens, the experiment begins to take a turn for the worse and Liotta begins to slip back into the shadows of his former self.

Through a series of events, he finds himself on the run again and fighting to stay alive. Dafoe, who sees his dream drug blowing up in his face, breaks all laws of ethics to see Liotta returned to the program and redeemed. He also learns the truth about the experiment, that was being kept secret from him by the drug maker, and the truth about Liotta’s change of character. The movie becomes a roller coaster in final minutes that goes full force until the end.

The disc is kind of bare with special features only including a behind the scenes feature and some previews for upcoming releases. In the behind the scenes, Liotta and Dafoe talk about the motivation of their characters and what attracted them to the parts. It is also kind of funny to see Liotta in make-up having fake gang tattoos applied to him while singing along with Frank Sinatra.

I would highly recommend this movie to anyone who enjoys a good crime drama, or likes Dafoe and Liotta. It is a great movie from start to finish. It is a bit rough and violent at times, but director Tim Hunter (indie classic River's Edge and The 4400) does a good job of using the violence to show the type of criminal Liotta portrays and the type person he becomes.

"Control" is in stores now and available to order via Amazon, no UK details yet.

Further details on the DVD in our database.

Further Reading on M&C

Ray Liotta Biography - - Ray Liotta Movies -