I'll Sleep When I'm Dead still packs a gut punch to this day as one man travels back home to find out what happened to his estranged brother. It's a wonderful yet tragic character study filmed in London. The 1080p HD transfer looks good and the DTS-HD 5.1 audio mix sounds better. The bonus features are all worth the time, although there is nothing new. Highly Recommended!
Director Mike Hodges gave the world the original Get Carter film (not the Sylvester Stallone one) and the cult classic that everyone loves - Flash Gordon. His last feature film was in 2003 titled I'll Sleep When I'm Dead which teams up Clive Owen, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, and the infamous droog himself Malcolm McDowell. Hodges takes it back to his roots with Get Carter and sets a violent and tragic story about someone returning home to investigate a murder. With its bizarre pace and fantastic, unorthodox character arcs, I'll Sleep When I'm Dead is still a brilliant work of art with some amazing performances.
Anti-heroes are some of the best characters in cinema. They're never really one-note and they balance the line between good and evil, which allows audiences to relate more to these character's modes of thinking. This is especially true with Will (Clive Owen) who was once a gangster, but left that life and everything behind to do something better for himself. Will gets word that his brother Davey (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) allegedly died by suicide. In the first sequence of the film as Will soon finds out - that's not exactly the case which sets him out in his old hometown full of his old gangster friends and enemies to find out who drove his brother to his death.
The film can get a bit graphic which is the intended purpose. With another director, this might have been made as a straightforward revenge flick, but with Hodges at the helm, he took a more experimental route that reveals the inner psyche of character traits without being too on the nose about it. There is never any black-and-white way for the audience show react one way or another about what's happening. Instead, Hodges leaves almost everything in an ambiguous state from its ending down to Will's past catching up to him. It's a poetic way of storytelling from start to finish and one hell of a way to tell a revenge flick that feels almost a little like the tone of Pig with Nicolas Cage.
Clive Owen delivers this noir vibe to Will that allows his character to never give anything away about what he's thinking so that the audience will not know the line he walks as he confronts the demons of his yesteryears. And Malcolm McDowell is of course, amazing in his sadistic role as Boad who has an element of Iago in him. These two characters are not the stereotypical good vs. bad guys in a movie, but rather an unraveling character study about coming home, brotherly love, starting over, and revenge. I'll Sleep When I'm Dead is off the beaten path and is still exquisite.
Vital Disc Stats: The Blu-ray
I'll Sleep When I'm Dead snoozes its way to Blu-ray via Imprint and Paramount. The sole Blu-ray Disc is housed inside a hard, clear plastic case with a cardboard sleeve. The artwork on the case features the main cast of characters in orange color with a blue title card. The case features the main cast as well but has a grey, blue, and green color palette. There is an image of Clive Owen from the film on the reverse side of the case artwork. There is no insert.
I'll Sleep When I'm Dead comes with a 1080p HD transfer and looks very good given its source from over two decades ago. Unfortunately, though, this Imprint release doesn't seem to be a brand new scan or transfer of the HD image. Instead, this is an older HD transfer that Paramount Pictures supplied.
That all being said, this image still looks good. The colors are intact and boast some of those great primary colors in well-lit scenes. The green leaves in the forest and in the countryside blend in well with the brown tree bark and grey skies. Lighter pastel colors also look good inside the houses and on the exterior buildings. Nothing overtly pops with pizazz here, but like its tone, this is supposed to be a dreary film.
The detail is sharp and vivid in most shots but can get a bit hazy in certain places. Closeups still reveal. the facial pores on Owen's freshly shaven face and the scars on some of the supporting characters. Wider shots don't tend to go soft either. Black levels are inky and the skin tones are natural. There are some minor fluctuations of noise and grain, but other than that, this is still a solid-looking image.
This release comes with a DTS-HD 5.1 audio mix and a LPCM 2.0 option as well. The 5.1 track is the way to go, giving more power to those rear elements and some oomph on the low end. The sound effects of cars and city life in London are great. They provide ample room for each city noise to come through the surround speakers. The atmospheric noises are elevated as well. The music cues always add to the noir style and the dialogue is clean, clear, and easy to follow.
There's nothing new here, but there are still some great interviews with the cast and crew along with the late director himself. There's also a wonderful commentary track to boot. About 34 minutes of extras are included.
I'll Sleep When I'm Dead is still a fantastic character study some twenty years later with some amazing performances. Everything from revenge and confronting the past is relevant here in this noir movie from a great director. The 1080p HD video presentation and the DTS-HD 5.1 audio mix are both good and the bonus features are worth watching even though there are no new extras. Highly Recommended!