In 'Next of Kin' Patrick Swayze and his mullet take on the most inept cinematic mafia ever conceived. I mean, these guys are part mobsters and part Looney Tunes characters. They resemble the bungling, buffoonish nature of the Goodfeathers on 'Animaniacs' much more than they resemble anything remotely coming close to organized crime.
Truman Gates (Swayze) is a cop in Chicago, but not just any cop. Gates hails from the backwoods of Kentucky, and even though he's moved to the big city, his mind is still stuck firmly in the Kentucky hills. He lives in Chicago with his brother Gerald (Bill Paxton) who is killed on one of his deliveries. The Chicago mob pulled off the hit because they wanted to take over the delivery vending business that Gerald was working for. They didn't really count on upsetting half of Kentucky's hillbilly population when they killed Gerald.
Truman wants to keep the investigation in the police's hands, even though he too wants revenge for his brother's murder. His family feels otherwise though, especially his other brother Briar (Liam Neeson), who feels they should immediately avenge their brother's death with an all-out assault.
The movie turns hilariously silly once we really get introduced to the mafia, which is nothing more than a bunch of incompetent criminals who have somehow formed themselves into an organized crime syndicate. John Isabella (Andreas Katsulas) is the head of the family and has a bunch of goons do his bidding. Leader of the goon squad is Joey Rosselini (Adam Baldwin). He's a hothead and has aspirations of taking over. Isabella has a son, Lawrence (Ben Stiller), who seems to know next to nothing about organized crime at all.
Honestly, the movie really never has that much promise to begin with. It's an age-old revenge tale that doesn't bring anything new to the table, other than Liam Neeson talking with a backwoods Kentucky accent which was extremely weird.
'Next of Kin' is full of all the requisite gun fights and macho showdowns, but even at a somewhat short 108 minutes, it still seems to drag along in the middle. There's nothing really holding the movie together. The tenuous relationship between Briar and Truman isn't all that interesting to begin with. There's never enough satisfying action to warrant sticking through the film. And there's never a point where you think the bad guys are actually capable of doing anything.
The entire movie is so drab and uninviting that it's hard to stay awake. Swayze is essentially embodies his role in 'Roadhouse' and goes for it, although this time around his grungy mullet is enough to distract your attention from the movie.
'Next of Kin' is the type of 80s movie that you expect to see on an obscure cable station in the early afternoon on a Saturday. It's the blandest of the bland. It hasn't got one memorable scene in it. There are a couple performances that are decent (Neeson and Baldwin) but the rest of the movie feels haphazardly thrown together from bits and pieces of other revenge movies. One of those movies you forget you watched five minutes after it ends.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
This catalogue Warner Bros. title comes in a standard eco-friendly Blu-ray keepcase and is coded for Region A use.
It was filmed in 1989 and you can definitely see the age of the film in this 1080p transfer. Much of the picture is murky and soft. Mid-range shots feature minimal fine detail. Close-ups do feature some good facial detail, but it still isn't all that striking.
Grain is heavy, but consistent throughout. Blacks feel heavy and undefined. Shadows tend to lean toward crushing out any of the detail that would've been there. Colors are washed out and drab. Skintones are pale while white light from the outside tends to wash out facial and textural details. Edges aren't as crisp as one might think they should be. Instead they provide fuzzy barriers between the characters in the foreground and the background. Blips, specks and pops of white are constantly popping up on screen.
I wasn't all that impressed with the 'Next of Kin' transfer. Although it does look on par with many of Warner's other lower-tier 80s catalogue titles.
This audio is awful, and damn near unlistenable. At first I thought that I'd be able to put up with a few syncing issues here and there, but in the end Warner's DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mix is simply terrible. Much of it has to do with the horrendous ADR that was done on this movie. There are a number of scenes where words blatantly don't match what the people on screen are saying, at all. Once or twice, I can ignore, but when it's happening constantly throughout the movie with no end in sight, then it's time to call it out. On top of that the whole thing has poor clarity and fidelity. Music is garbled and mushy. Sound effects are anemic. Dialogue is muffled and at times incoherent. In other words, this is one of the worst audio presentations I've ever had the displeasure of hearing.
There are no special features on this disc.
'Next of Kin' is a forgettable movie. It should have stayed locked in the Warner vault. There's nothing about this movie or release that warrants someone spending their hard-earned money on. The movie may be a silly guilty pleasure to some, but with the average video and the terrible audio, why would you want to own this anyway? This is one to avoid.