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Quicksilver Blu-ray Review

Quicksilver (1986) movie poster Quicksilver

Theatrical Release: February 14, 1986 / Running Time: 106 Minutes / Rating: PG

Writer/Director: Tom Donnelly

Cast: Kevin Bacon ("Smilin'" Jack Casey), Jami Gertz (Terri), Paul Rodriguez (Hector Rodriguez), Rudy Ramos (Gypsy), Andrew Smith (Gabe Kaplan), Gerald S. O'Loughlin (Mr. Casey), Laurence Fishburne (Voodoo), Louie Anderson (Tiny), Charles McCaughan (Airborne), David Harris (Apache), Whitney Kershaw (Rand), Joshua Shelley (Shorty), Georgann Johnson (Mrs. Casey)

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Kevin Bacon's acting career began with appearances in some of the most notable and enduring films of the late 1970s and early 1980s: a small role in Animal House, bigger ones in the original Friday the 13th
and Barry Levinson's ensemble coming-of-age dramedy Diner. Then came Footloose, a hit which remains one of Bacon's most identifiable credits to date. That small town dancing drama cemented its 25-year-old star as a leading man, though that wasn't a position Bacon insisted on holding very long, as he willingly shared the spotlight and took supporting roles in worthwhile dramas like JFK, A Few Good Men, and Apollo 13.

Bacon's first post-Footloose theatrical release was a rare single-handed vehicle for him. Quicksilver opened Valentine's Day 1986 and was decidedly not a success, grossing less overall than what Footloose made in its opening weekend two Februarys earlier. Time hasn't seen the public warm to or familiarize themselves with Quicksilver, which somehow didn't even draw many mentions when the similarly-themed Premium Rush was released last year.

Marking the directorial debut of screenwriter Thomas Michael Donnelly, Quicksilver opens with hand-colored tableaus celebrating its bike messenger characters. At the start, Jack Casey (Bacon) looks down upon the profession. En route to his stockbroker job, Jack smugly offers his cab driver a $50 bonus if he can beat the messenger riding furiously outside his window. The cabbie can't, but Jack at least gets a souvenir in the nimble delivery boy's lost beret.

Stockbroker turned bike messenger Jack Casey (Kevin Bacon) repairs and WD-40s the bike of his liar colleague Terri (Jami Gertz) in "Quicksilver."

Jack loses much more than headgear at work that day, undoing years of personal success with a bad options trade that wipes out the entirety of his blue collar family's life savings. Jack shaves off his pretentious mustache, grows out his hair and himself becomes a bike messenger. Soon, he's weaving around cars and pedestrians (occasionally donning that found beret), earning just enough dough to live in a spacious warehouse loft he shares with his girlfriend Rand (Whitney Kershaw).

Deciding he's lost the nerve for the financial industry to which his parents and old co-worker encourage a return, Jack is the most focal of a few hard-working bike messengers demanding our attention. Another is the obligatory love interest: Terri (Jami Gertz), a quiet girl trying hard to look tough in her wool cap. Her story isn't clear; she invents a different set of glamorous parents for all who ask, while raising suspicions of homelessness and desperation. There's also Hector Rodriguez (Paul Rodriguez), Jack and Terri's good-natured mentor, an optimistic Mexican with a pregnant wife and hot dog cart dreams who applies for a bank loan in a rented tuxedo.

It's not just the cars, trucks, and construction workers that bike messengers have to look out for. There are also dangerous individuals like The Gypsy (Rudy Ramos), a drug dealer who uses bike messengers to distribute his product. The enterprising Voodoo (Laurence Fishburne, back when he went by "Larry") gets mixed up with the Gypsy and winds up run over. Next, Terri is reluctantly tapped for the same illegal work.

Shortly before beginning his run on "Pee-Wee's Playhouse" as Cowboy Curtis, Laurence "Larry" Fishburne plays Voodoo, an enterprising, street-wise bike messenger who challenges Jack to a race. Optimistic Mexican Hector (Paul Rodriguez) shows newbie Terri (Jami Gertz) the ropes around Quicksilver's.

To someone like me, who adores the 1980s and almost always finds the good in the decade's contemporary films, it takes something egregious to not win me over. I guess Quicksilver earns that label, because try though I did, I could not like this movie. Two sequences in this film are as cheesy as 1980s cinema gets. One sees Jack bring his bicycle into the middle of Randy's ballet practice.
Another finds guys doing tricks on their bikes while their fellow messengers gather around at work to watch. Each of these and other scenes are blasted with the kind of dated cheery pop tunes that can now be tapped to create an instantly hilarious training montage.

There's considerable disconnect between this movie's universe and reality, its post-PG-13 PG-rated depiction of street culture and urban workers looking more than a little outlandish twenty-seven years later. Though seemingly set in New York City, the film was shot entirely in California and has the ubiquitous license plates to prove it. The result is some unrecognizable metropolis, a non-existent cold, gray version of Los Angeles that further undermines what little realism there is.

Bacon and his co-stars do what they can with the material, but their apparent belief in it casts great shadows of doubt over their judgment. While he recovered fairly quickly, remaining oft-employed and highly visible even to this day, his fellow collaborators didn't fare as well. Rodriguez still carries a degree of fame, though his film career largely slowed after this in favor of stand-up comedy and related offshoots. Gertz went on to do other iconic '80s films Less Than Zero and The Lost Boys, but didn't really become a household face until the CBS' early 2000s series "Still Standing", one of those sitcoms that reaches syndication without you ever knowing anyone who's ever deliberately watched it. Meanwhile, writer/director Donnelly (credited as Tom back then) would take some time off. He returned with the screenplay for the 1991 Edward James Olmos baseball scout drama Talent for the Game. Since then, he's only written and directed television movies and miniseries, his services growing less in demand as those formats largely vanish.

Quicksilver is a movie you understand being licensed out to a smaller studio for Blu-ray. That is what Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has done, allowing Image Entertainment to supply the film's Blu-ray debut next Tuesday.

Quicksilver Blu-ray Disc cover art -- click to buy from Amazon.com Blu-ray Disc Details

1.85:1 Widescreen
2.0 DTS-HD MA (English)
Subtitles: English for Hearing Impaired
Not Closed Captioned
Release Date: August 6, 2013
Suggested Retail Price: $17.97
Single-sided, single-layered disc (BD-25)
Blue Keepcase with Side Snap
Also available on DVD ($9.98 SRP) and Amazon Instant Video
Previously released as Sony DVD (December 10, 2002) and VHS (June 20, 2000)

VIDEO and AUDIO

Image's Blu-ray release and concurrent new DVD have rid the world of one more movie previously relegated to a cropped presentation. Sony's 2002 DVD reformatted Quicksilver to the 1.33:1 aspect ratio of then-standard televisions. Image kindly restores the film to its original intended and theatrical 1.85:1 widescreen aspect ratio.

The Blu-ray's picture quality is pretty good. The element is quite clean, fittingly grainy, reasonably sharp, and nicely detailed. Colors are pale, but appear to be true to the original look and representative of a 1980s film palette.

Sound, provided only in a 2.0 DTS-HD master audio track, is okay. Some of the recordings are aged and lacking. Most of it is intelligible but kind of flat. English SDH subtitles are included. They resemble closed captioning with their white text in black boxes.

How much is that bikey in the window, wonders disgraced former stockbroker Jack Casey (Kevin Bacon) on the Quicksilver Blu-ray's menu.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS, PACKAGING and DESIGN

This Blu-ray is completely void of bonus features, but then so was Quicksilver's DVD save for unspecified promotional trailers
(that may or may not have included one for the feature presentation). A movie like this could get away with being joined by nothing other than its original trailer. That it doesn't even get that much is somewhat disappointing, though not very surprising given Sony's treatment of its catalog titles on Blu-ray.

The menu applies a ghosting effect to the edges of a looped 40-second montage of clips from the film while an excerpt of the film's very '80s score plays. The disc supports bookmarks, but does not automatically resume playback.

No inserts, slipcover, or reverse artwork accompany the side-snapped blue keepcase, which at least gives the disc itself a full-color label adapted from the recycled cover art.

This scene in which Jack Casey (Kevin Bacon) rides his bicycle right into girlfriend Rand's (Whitney Kershaw) ballet rehearsal is as cheesy as 1980s cinema gets.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

I love me some cheesy 1980s entertainment, but Quicksilver is just a bit too cheesy to enjoy. Maybe it's because this movie takes its bike messenger street drama completely seriously or maybe it's because none of its ideas (from bizarre staredowns to unclear stock market trading scenes) really pays off, but this emerges as one of the more embarrassing and less lovable pieces of '80s cinema.

Image's Blu-ray is skeletal, but the feature presentation is quite good and a tad better than it might be from studios who would charge you less. While it's not a disc I can recommend in good faith to anyone, fans of the movie who passed on the "fullscreen" DVD might be glad to add this widescreen release to their collections.

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Related Reviews:
Premium Rush | New: Peggy Sue Got Married Ishtar Babette's Feast
Kevin Bacon: Footloose (1984) Hollow Man Trapped X-Men: First Class Crazy, Stupid, Love. Death Sentence Planes, Trains & Automobiles
Jami Gertz: Family Ties: The Second Season | Laurence Fishburne: Contagion Apocalypse Now | Paul Rodriguez: Beverly Hills Chihuahua
1986 Movies: Top Gun Platoon Ferris Bueller's Day Off Flight of the Navigator The Color of Money Back to School
1980s: Adventures in Babysitting Wall Street Flashdance Teen Wolf Pet Sematary

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Reviewed July 30, 2013.



Text copyright 2013 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 1986 Columbia Pictures, IndieProd Company, and 2013 Image Entertainment, RLJ Entertainment.
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