Burt Reynolds does what he does best - plays himself as a man-of-action badass while directing himself in Stick. Based on the novel and screenplay by Elmore Leonard, it's packed with Leonard's trademark colorful criminals, but Reynolds can't quite manage the motivations and tension beyond executing impressive action and stunt sequences. Still, a fun 80s action flick that may not be the greatest thriller ever made, but it's damn entertaining. Kino Lorber Studio Classics delivers a solid Blu-ray release with a gleaming video transfer and an active audio mix with a great audio commentary to kick up the bonus features. Worth A Look.
Ernest "Stick" Stickley (Burt Reynolds) just got out of the joint after serving a long stint behind bars for armed robbery. Going straight in Miami ain't easy. After getting a job as an "errand boy" for local color and mobster Chucky (Charles Durning). When the deal goes bad leaving his best friend dead at the hand of an albino hitman called Moke (Dar Robinson), Stick has to find a way to get the cash he's owed, revenge, and keep a low profile with the local law. Signing on as driver for a sleazy stockbroker Barry (George Segal), Stick finds himself in the perfect position to put his plan into motion.
Love him or hate him, Burt Reynolds was at least consistent with his output! Stick like so many of his movies barely rises above being a mid-tier thriller, but it does manage to entertain. Reynolds has a flair for work behind the camera, and he's certainly charming enough in front, but when he's doing both jobs at once tends to struggle. That's the case here. He never quite manages a hold of Elmore Leonard's characters or linguistic rhythms that other filmmakers like Quintin Tarantino, Steven Soderbergh, or Barry Sonnenfeld managed to bring to their adaptations. Still - it's a fun show. It's never boring. And it does pull off one of the best stunt falls committed to film - it's seriously one to watch a couple of times for how good it is!
Vital Disc Stats: The Blu-ray
Stick fires up Blu-ray thanks to Kino Lorber Studio Classics in a single-disc set. Pressed on a Region A BD-50 disc, the disc is housed in a standard sturdy case. The disc loads to a static image main menu with traditional navigation options.
I can't be sure of the vintage of the transfer sourced for Stick and its 1.85:1 1080p transfer, but I feel like it has to have been fairly recent. From the outset details are strong - facial features, clothing, set design - and even the big final stunt fall of the film are all on display without any softness issues or signs of sharpening or edge enhancement. Film grain is apparent and healthy to normal-looking creating that desirable film-like appearance. There are a couple of sequences where the grain can be a bit noisier - but those shots look as though they were optically zoomed in, the grain just looks "bigger" in that telltale way. Colors are bright and bold - they'd have to be for a movie that takes place in Miami in the 80s. Flesh tones are healthy and black levels are on point without any worry of crush. Some slight speckling pops in from time to time, but that's the worst of the age-related wear and tear.
Stick carries a big and bold DTS-HD MA 2.0 audio mix. While not a full-on surround experience, a lot of audio oomph is packed into these two channels. From the opening shot of a train to the big explosive inciting incident to the bullet-riddled finale, there's plenty of active and engaging effects to keep the mix lively. Spacing and atmosphere are particularly impressive allowing outdoor sequences to feel natural while tightly confined rooms are met with an equally claustrophobic sense of spacing. Dialog is clean and clear throughout without any hiss, pops or age-related issues. The only oddity here is some of the overdubbed ADR dialog lines can stand out against the mix - particularly Burt when it sounds like he's redone a line read to add some more wit into the delivery - that's a cooked in issue, not a fault of the mix, but it's easy to notice when you hear it. Levels are on point.
Stick doesn't come packed with bonus features - but the new audio commentary with Nick Pinkerton is a fun listen so that's at least worth digging into.
Audio Commentary with film critic Nick Pinkerton
Behind The Scenes / Promotional Gallery
Burt Reynolds isn't exactly known for his directing prowess but he was a capable filmmaker. Stick may not be a crowning achievement or a grand entry in the thriller genre or in the oeuvre of Elmore Leonard adaptations - but it was entertaining. Never boring, the film finds a pace and sticks to it - even if Reynolds doesn't have the soft hand to finesse the plot points and characters. Kino Lorber Studio Classics delivers a solid Blu-ray release of Stick to the market place. Packed with a strong A/V presentation, the bonus features may be light but the audio commentary is a great listen. If you're a Burt Reynolds fan, Stick is good for a view or two. Worth A Look.