'Cat Run' was made for guys, there's no denying it. From the two main characters, a pair of bumbling kids who turn into private eyes and seem to be able to do no wrong, to the action oriented plot and attention to sexualizing nearly every female on screen, there isn't too much in here for the fairer sex. Not even Paz Vega's titular Cat is all that concerned with getting women interested in any sense of drama or realism. We have random gunfights, 180 degree character changes at the flip of a switch, scenes of torture that will make any guy cross his legs and grimace, and some nasty, nasty kills, all spread fairly evenly across the 106 minute run time.
Yet, not even the guys are really catered to all that well, and you'll have to forgive the following tangent, as it isn't a critical issue, but is definitely one any guy will notice stands out for all the wrong reasons. For those who are unfamiliar with Paz Vega, the actress made a name for herself by starring in erotic fare in her early acting days, from 'Sex and Lucia' (which features unsimulated intercourse, albeit purportedly by doubles) to 'The Other Side of the Bed,' 'Carmen,' and 'Talk to Her.' The actress seemed to have no qualms about throwing her kit off in her earlier years in the business, but in the opening scenes to 'Cat Run,' which is truly her vehicle, we're left wondering what the hell happened. Cat, a high end escort, enters a party with a friend/coworker, where all the ladies there seem to be "paid" (if you catch my drift), and every single female is either half nude or full monty. Throughout this sequence, however, Cat remains chaste, entirely clothed, and borderline virginal. My disinterest in 'Cat Run' cannot be entirely pinned on this bizarre moment, even if it stands out and is worth remarking on. Escort...nudity. How hard is it to sell her profession, when you can do it without words?! Heck, for the rest of the film, if you weren't blatantly told she's a call girl, would you have even known? See how much so little can do in establishing a character?
Not much ever goes right in 'Cat Run.' After the aforementioned party ends in a brutal killing of numerous sex workers, Cat finds herself on the run, having absconded with an encrypted hard drive that contains footage of a powerful man choking a woman to death in a sex act. Her bank account is frozen, the borders and train stations are all manned and under lockdown, and her various attempts to escape put her in a worse situation. When a pair of young men (Scott Mechlowicz, Alphonso McAuley) whose car was stolen by Cat decide to pursue her and get to the bottom of the mystery hinted at in the papers, they discover a web of deception and intrigue, always a step behind a hired gun who mutilates and murders her suspects. Everyone is after Cat for one reason or another, and her only way out is to stop running and confront the people trying to silence her.
If 'Cat Run' had a third of the directional charm that made 'Haywire' such an intriguing cinematic experience, it would have been a solid film. Instead, this quasi-revenge caper misfires on all cylinders, providing a formulaic action flick that lacks a single ounce of brain power. The biggest problem? Characters who make no sense. The two young men who decide, out of the blue, to become private dicks steal far too much screen time, their amateur methods leading them to success after success, as they unravel the clues the professionals can't. There's very little time spent on the titular character, as these two goobers (and their triple amputee receptionist, D.L. Hughley, in a great, very random role) trod through the scenes, dragging the audience behind them uncaringly.
The mood and atmosphere of the film are all over the place, as well. We open to intrigue and mystery, and the more unraveled the twisted plot becomes (through the use of flashback on that party/bloodbath), as characters pop in at regular intervals to try to breathe fresh air into the film as it slips off life support. The action isn't all that heart-pounding, the comedic elements regularly fall flat (as McAuley finds himself growing more and more obnoxious), and the awkward blend in tones leaves viewers unsure of the intended effect of most scenes.
Director John Stockwell isn't a rookie by any means, having directed a number of recognizable flicks ('Blue Crush,' 'Turistas'), yet the flick has a strange first-timer feeling to it. While most of the blame should be pinned on writers Nick Ball and John Niven, who actually are first-timers, Stockwell sits at the wheel of this out of control vehicle.
'Cat Run' is full of characters whose motives are defined by the needs of the film, rather than realism, with some random crude and rude action (including the punting of a triple amputee across a room, in slow motion no less), and one of the most crude and disturbing turning points in the finale that has to be seen to be believed. It's not so much a horrible flick as it is one that could have been much, much better, in more competent hands. Perhaps a rewrite or two could have fixed some of the grievous errors, or maybe a bigger focus on the main character instead of the two dumb luck assholes we're told to be interested in could have solved many problems. The bottom line is 'Cat Run' feels amateur, awkward, and nonsensical. And dumb. Definitely, definitely dumb.
The Disc: Vital Stats
Universal brings 'Cat Run' to Blu-ray on a Region A/B/C BD50 disc, which has a number of pre-menu trailers. This is not one of those new dang-fangled Universal discs with no menus, as we're brought to the traditional screen with left bar navigation that we've become accustomed to over the years. First pressings include a slipcover that replicates the art beneath.
'Cat Run' isn't an impressive or captivating film, but the video on the Blu-ray release of the film will manage to keep your attention. Presented in 1080p, the film is consistently attractive, with accurate, unwavering skin tones, solid picture depth, and colors that remain true and natural throughout the feature. Edges are 100% natural, there's no artifacting or DNR, and while some minor noise issues come into play in the middle of the flick, for the most part the disc is free from technical error. A few darker shots in the early goings lose the sense of depth and picture quality, and while detail levels are pretty good throughout the film, the fact that facial features rarely shine or show all that much character can be a little disconcerting.
Kitty doesn't roar on Blu-ray.
'Cat Run' sports a somewhat confusing, half assed effort in the audio department, with a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track that doesn't mask the audio shortcomings as much as it points them out and waits for you to agree before moving on. From the opening shot, which has opportunities to spread through the room and grip the viewer from the start but instead keeps all the pivotal audio in the front channels, to random scenes where busy rooms seem flat, with noise populating in the fronts only, there is missed potential at every turn. Bass levels aren't bad, but they do start out fairly weak before growing a pair for random effect. Dynamics in exteriors are occasionally off and flat, and dialogue sometimes isn't the clearest. Aside from solid gunfire pop, there is little in terms of volume spike or range. This track is just passable. Barely.
'Cat Run' isn't quite fun enough to be considered dumb fun. It's just dumb. Between awkward tone shifts to unlikable, unbelievable characters (whose place in the world seems to be solely for advancing a plot), there's too much time wasted trying to establish numerous storylines instead of focusing on making one coherent plot. There are far worse titles out there, but from serious moments to awkward, unbelievable action, escapes, or drop of a hat character motivation reversals, this one just ain't worth it. The Blu-ray? Solid enough to merit a rental.