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Control (2005)

Sentenced to death… Chosen to live… Destined to kill again.

Directed by:

Tim Hunter

Rating: 6/10

Running Time: 90 minutes

US Certificate: R UK Certificate: 15

On DVD

Country: United States

Just ten minutes into ‘Control’, I feared the worst. Not only was I watching a movie which gave a complete body-swerve to any sort of big-screen release (that’s despite boasting a cast including Ray Liotta, Willem Dafoe and Michelle Rodriguez), but it seemed to be following a solid pattern of laughable pantomime violence and OTT villainy. Having watched a frighteningly large number of such straight-to-video efforts in the past, the signs weren’t good: never before have I seen any of them manage to turn things around after making such a bad start. Incredibly though, this one manages it.

Liotta takes the lead as set-in-stone baddie Lee Ray Oliver. A scar-faced potty-mouth who’d knee you in the guts as soon as look at you, this ridiculously nasty piece of work is all set to be executed for one of God knows how many murders. That is until the craggy-faced scientist Michael Copeland (Dafoe) steps in to offer him a deal: take the lethal injection earned by years of bad-eggery, or participate in a medical experiment involving a course of aggression-suppressing drugs. Lee accepts the proposal and Dr Mike vows to have him hugging puppies and picking flowers before the week is out – but, with a past that’s all too eager to catch up with him, will it all be as straight-forward as our medicine-testing wild-man would like to think?

Of course, unlike those mood pills, the general storyline is a little tough to swallow, and if looking for plot-holes is your bag then you won’t have to search too hard here. But Liotta and Dafoe both produce genuinely compelling performances (in fact, in Liotta’s case I’d go as far as to say it’s the best display he’s delivered in many, many years), and director Tim Hunter keeps things moving along at a quick, enjoyable pace. Okay, so on the fleeting occasions when Hunter tries to exercise a bit of personal aesthetic style, it generally comes across as clunky and unnecessary – but for the most part he sticks to the simple stuff, and when he does he gets it pretty much spot-on.

It's Got: Some sporadically lousy dialogue from Mr Liotta’s character, including “I’d rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy.” He’s here all week, folks!

It Needs: As he’s on the calm-inducing drugs, some pills to fix that sense of humour while he’s at it.

DVD Extras A fairly bland “Making Of” featurette, and that’s your lot. Available from Amazon DVD Extras Rating: 2/10

Alternatives:

A Clockwork Orange

Summary

Despite the dodgy start and bargain bin fate, this watchable and strongly-performed thriller is well worth giving a chance.

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