HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: Meet the Blacks
HTS Overall Score:66
“Criminal” first caught my eye a few months ago when the press release poster art came across my little email account. It stood out to me mostly due to the names and faces present on the announcement. We had Tommy Lee Jones, Gary Oldman, Kevin Costner, Gal Gadot, Scott Adkins, Ryan Reynolds, Alice Eve, Jordi Molla and several other fairly recognizable actors in the long cast list. For a movie that I completely missed in theaters I was more than impressed with the long list of veteran actors, especially the inclusion of Costner who has been a personal favorite of mine since I was a teenager growing up watching him in “Silverado” and “The Untouchables”. So color me a bit intrigued and more than a bit excited to watch the action thriller, only to be slightly disappointed with so much talent on screen and such mediocre results. I can’t honestly say that “Criminal” is a BAD movie (in fact it’s done fairly competently), but the movie suffers from being overly clichéd and derivative with direction that leaves the talented cast with not a whole lot to work with.
CIA Agent Bill Pope (Ryan Reynolds in one of his VERY few non comedic roles) is murdered by anarchist mogul Heimdahl (Jordi Molla) who is looking for a very important bit of information. It seems that some hacker by the code name of “The Dutchman” has gotten control of the U.S. Military defense infrastructure and is trying to broker a deal with the CIA for clemency as the psychotic Heimdahl is not to be trusted with such dangerous power. However, the deal went south and Heimdahl was only able to capture and torture Pope for a while before the agent ends up in a body bag. Now CIA director Wells (Gary Oldman) has come up with the brilliant idea of using one Dr. Franks (Tommy Lee Jones), a pioneer in neurology, to transfer the brain functions of the recently deceased into the brain of an emotionally scarred and damaged killer.
Now this killer, named Jericho (Kevin Costner) doesn’t take the new brain functions as they had hoped. Instead of being over written by the neural synapses implanted into his brain, the man becomes a fused hybrid of the two men, with Jericho partially in control, but also influenced by the dead CIA agent’s emotions and moral compass. Escaping from CIA custody, Jericho has to complete agent Pope’s last mission, and get seriously rich in the process by snagging a bag worth $10 million, that is if he can control the dichotomy that is running through his overloaded psyche long enough to get away with it. Aided by Pope’s grieving widow (Gal Gadot), Jericho has to evade the CIA, Heimdahl, AND the rest of the general populace as he weaves his way in and out of the broken mind that has become his new home before he ends up in the same situation that agent Pope ended up in.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=76089[/img]There really is no plot to “Meet the Blacks”. We have the basic idea that a poor black man has gone from the projects to the rich upper side of Beverly Hills, and that this is a time of year where everyone and everything can take out their vengeance and anger on everyone around them. The rest of the time is spent making horrible gutter mouthed jokes about everything from side chicks, to afros, to drooling over Lorena, to just plain racist stereotypes from every other insulting comedy known to man. By the end of the 94 minutes I felt like I was just beaten over the head with lead pipe and feeling just as woozy afterwards. The movie is a nonstop assault of one liners and running gags, but maybe 2-3 of them actually stick the entire film.
There is a plethora of guest stars making appearacnes, with Snoop Dog as a “white guy”, George Lopez as president (making jokes about coming for Donald Trump and Arnold), and even a few cameos by comedian Lavell Crawford and Perez Hilton. Even Mike Tyson as a lisping clown who never got paid by Carol falls flat as a board. There’s literally no chemistry between anyone on screen, and many of the jokes rely on just calling everyone the N word and laughing about a horny teenager trying to hit on Allie. What could have been a witty (or at least partially funny) parody ends up just being a waste of time, as no one in the entire movie seems to give a rip about their parts. Even Mike Epps is running on only 2 cylinders and he usually is the life of the party in his guest appearances.
Rated R for pervasive language, some sexual material, violence and drug use
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=76097[/img]“Meet the Blacks” has a very nice looking scope transfer (which is kind of surprising considering the direct to video roots and comedy nature that seems to be prevalent in the 1.85:1 or 1.78:1 aspect ratio). Colors are bright and clean, with more than acceptable detail levels. The Black family mansion looks ornately done and everything looks great clarity wise. However, once the film picks up and goes into Purge mode, the lights get cut and everything is bathed in darkness. Most of the time those black levels remain consistently good, but there is plenty of banding to around in the shadows which can get rather annoying when it rears its ugly head. It’s a nice looking digital image, and one that has very few flaws, and it’s only real fault (besides the banding) is that it isn’t a giant multimillion dollar blockbuster.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=76105[/img]Lionsgate’s 5.1 DTS-HD MA track is wildly aggressive, and pounds away with the RZA’s score as well as the myriad of gunshots and other purge related naughtiness. Guns and doors show authority, with deep pounding LFE that doesn’t let up from beginning to end and a strong ambient surround structure. Mike Epps yelling from the back room is picked up with pinpoint precision on the left rear channel, while the sounds of chainsaws and gunshots rattle off in the background. The bass is rippling with power and pretty much never lets up, with my only complaint being that it sounds a bit one notish. The LFE is constant, powerful and full of life, but there isn’t as much tonal distinction as I would have liked, and the vocals sometimes get drowned out with the overly aggressive track.
• “The Making of Meet the Blacks” Featurette
• “Hit the Gas” Music Video
• Behind the Scenes of “Hit the Gas”
• “Don’t Hate Wiring!” Parody Commercial
Ughhhh. I cannot convey to you just how much I despised “Meet the Blacks”. Modern parody films have completely gone haywire and lack any sense of humor whatsoever, and “Meet the Blacks” is no exception. Crude, crass, stupid, unfunny, irredeemable, and pretty much a stain on the carpet, the film really should have just stayed inside somebodies head instead of trying to be put in on film. Sadly, movies like these are made for a couple of million, only to make $10 million or so and are just churned out like clockwork. This one follows that pattern, with a $900,000 budget and most likely making several million on home video alone. Audio and video are about the only interesting things on the disc, as even the extras are fluff pieces. I don’t LIKE to give a negative rating to films, but this is one I wouldn’t even rent for my worst enemy. Just run in terror the opposite way.
Starring: Mike Epps, Alex Henderson, Zulay Henao
Directed by: Deon Taylor
Written by: Deon Taylor, Nicole DeMasi
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1
Runtime: 94 minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: August 2nd, 2016
Buy Meet the Blacks On Blu-ray at Amazon
Recommendation: Run in Absolute Terror
More about Mike