Like people, corporations can hold secrets. And for those who uncover them, silence is not only golden, but sometimes the difference between life and death. When a top executive commits suicide at the skyscraper headquarters of Gault Capital, the dead man's loyal protégé Jane Porter (Sarah Butler) uncovers some startling criminal evidence. In response, the corporation calls in their "crisis manager," Frank (D.B. Sweeney), to silence her forever. Eluding her pursuer, Jane soon finds herself trapped in an elevator between floors on a holiday weekend in a very empty building. With their cat and mouse game seemingly at check-mate, Jane must summon all her courage and wits to escape. But she soon discovers that surviving a cold-blooded killer may mean a very long drop to the ground floor.
As 'Free Fall' got underway, I really thought for a good 20 minutes or so that this low-budget attempt at a female Die Hard might prove to be entertaining. Alas, after a promising opening, the movie starts to go through one cliché after another, while offering nothing new or particularly interesting to the home viewer.
The movie stars Sarah Butler as Jane Porter, a young woman looking to make her way up the corporate ladder at a big conglomerate at which she is employed. The opening scene shows Sarah in kickboxing training with her boyfriend (Jayson Blair) for no other reason than to set her up to kick ass later in the movie. The pair has also left their TV on, so viewers can see a clip of the owner of Sarah's company, Thaddeus Gault (Malcolm McDowell), telling TV reporters what a good and upstanding citizen he is – which, naturally, couldn't be further from the truth.
The next morning at work, Sarah learns that her supervisor has apparently committed suicide by jumping off the roof of the building. Gault arrives at Sarah's office to tell everyone how sorry he is that they lost an employee, and also makes Sarah an offer for her to take over her former supervisor's position, which she declines for the moment. Now none of what's happened up to this point in the movie has exactly been original, but at least it hasn't been overly predictable. However, at this point, 'Free Fall' turns into a series of all too familiar movie scenes.
Yes, Sarah becomes suspicious of Gault. Yes, she goes into her former supervisor's office and finds a secret file he left behind that no one has managed to notice even though his office has been cleaned out. Yes, she finds on this file all kinds of evidence against Gault, and, yes, she then makes the stupid move of relaying this fact to a fellow employee, who – naturally – can't be trusted at all because he's as underhanded as Gault.
Sarah's colleague says he's going to call in the Securities and Exchange Commission, but who he actually calls in is a man named Frank (D.B. Sweeney), who can best be described as Gault's 'handler' for all things untoward. He questions Sarah and she soon realizes he's not who he says he is. She makes a run for it, and Frank goes after her with his gun, missing clear shots at her despite the fact that she's essentially trotting down five flights of stairs in her heels (which the movie thankfully gives her the sense to kick off a few minutes later). Sarah makes it into an elevator and gets down a few more floors before Frank and Sarah's co-worker stop it, trapping her inside. Most of the rest of the movie is a cat and mouse game between Sarah and Frank that pretty much ends the way you guess it will.
I've been a fan of D.B. Sweeney ever since I saw him in The Cutting Edge, but he doesn't give the best of performances here. If Malcolm McDowell can be described as chewing the scenery in 'Free Fall', Sweeney is devouring it – playing his bad guy so over the top, he's not really believable at all.
So while 'Free Fall' isn't the worst premise for a movie, it's a shame the filmmakers couldn't do much with it. I'm not sure the screenwriters ever figured out the Sarah character, as at times she's very proactive and strong, and at other times she falls into the 'woman in danger' category and can't seem to fend for herself. The movie doesn't do a very good job of establishing her either, which makes caring about her fate a little more difficult for the viewer. The result is a movie with too many problems and not enough originality, and one that I'm sad to say isn't really worth one's time.
The Blu-Ray: Vital Disc Stats
'Free Fall' drops onto Blu-ray in an eco-friendly Elite keepcase, which houses the 25GB disc (with no inserts). The Blu-ray is front loaded with trailers for In The Blood, Born To Race: Fast Track, Road to Paloma, plus a promo clip for horror titles that are available on Blu-ray from Anchor Bay. The main menu consists of a montage of footage from the movie, with menu selections running across the bottom of the screen.
This Blu-ray release is Region A locked.
The first thing one is bound to notice about the image here is that, like many modern movies, 'Free Fall' is addicted to the bluish/silverish/grayish color scheme, which encompasses all but a few short scenes of this title. Shot in HD on Arri Alexa equipment, there's no denying that the transfer here looks very good, with plenty of detail throughout, solid black levels (important here, since a big chunk of the movie either takes place in an elevator or in the elevator shaft outside it), and consistent skin tones. There are no noticeable issues with banding, haloing, artifacting, or the like.
It's really a shame that as good as this transfer is, the filmmakers couldn't give us something a bit more interesting too look at. The first half hour of the film offers some nice variety, but once we make it into that elevator, the movie has such a sterile look that even this sharp HD image can't offer much in the way of visual appeal. Still, given what the visuals are, this transfer does a good job of rendering them.
The back of the box cover slick incorrectly lists the audio as Dolby TrueHD 5.1. What we actually get here is a 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track, although audiophiles may tell you the difference between the competing companies has more to do with marketing than any aural difference in quality. What I enjoyed about this lossless track is that it has a lot of fun with both directionality and giving the viewer an immersive feeling to the action. Depending on the characters location in a room, dialogue will move around among the front three speakers. Also, particularly during the elevator sequences, the rears will creak, groan, and occasionally swish from back to front or vice versa to give the illusion of movement.
Everything is properly balanced here, and while I wasn't particularly impressed by the fairly unmemorable score (by composer Timothy Andrew Edwards), everything is properly balanced and neither the music or any of the ambient sounds ever drown out the spoken word. I also did not notice any obvious glitches, dropouts, or other problems with the track.
In addition to the lossless track, subtitles are available in English SDH and Spanish.
'Free Fall' doesn't get off to a horrible start, but once you realize it's not going to try anything we haven't seen dozens of times before (with better actors in more elaborate productions), it pretty much falls flat on its face. Unless you're a huge fan of one of the actors here, there's really no reason to sit through this movie. Skip it.