Sunday, 28 June 2015

Stretch

I didn’t have any idea what to expect going into Stretch. I didn’t watch any trailers or read the plot synopsis. I didn’t read any reviews. I saw the cover of the Blu-ray and was sold. It looked interesting and a little bizarre – the best kind of film! I bought it, put it in my player and watched it. I’m glad I did. And I’m also very glad that I didn’t know what to expect. 


Out now on Blu-Ray and DVD comes Stretch, a rather unusual film, but a very original and entertaining one. Directed by Joe Carnahan, the man behind Smokin’ Aces, The A-Team reboot and The Grey; Stretch stars one of Hollywood’s many ‘that guy’s, Patrick Wilson, as the eponymous hero Stretch. He’s a limousine driver whose day goes from bad to worse to even worse again. Just think Clockwise, starring John Cleese – a seemingly normal day gets more and more unusual, stressful and chaotic until there’s simply no rectifying the situation easily. We’ve all had days like that, right?


I know, you have no idea what this film is. No surprise there – I didn’t either. It had an extremely small release – in America, it was completely scrapped by Universal before the planned wide release in March 2014 in what was described by The Hollywood Reporter as a ‘completely unprecedented move’. After months of trying to make deals and sell the film, Carnahan eventually released the film exclusively on demand in October! Here in the UK, it went completely under the radar until its straight-to-DVD/Blu-ray release. It’s a shame, as it’s one of the best comedy thrillers in a long time.
I’ll start off by warning you of one thing. The first 20 minutes or so are very weak. The film takes a while finding its mojo – I’ll admit, after the first 15 minutes I was losing interest and regretting starting it. But once the plot properly kicks in, the tone changes and the film comes into its own. And once Stretch grabs you, it doesn’t let go until the end credits. What makes it so good? Stretch is hilariously funny. But it’s not just a comedy, oh no! It’s an action-packed thriller! And arguably, a romance! Carnahan expertly crafts this mish-mash of genres to great effect. Very stylishly done, too. With an electronic score, a neon-soaked LA and some rather 80s lettering on the titles and credits, Stretch feels like a comedy version of Drive. And that is not a bad thing.

Patrick Wilson, channelling a hybrid of Michael Keaton and Chris Pratt, is on very fine form here. After roles in Watchmen, Insidious and The Conjuring; he’s never had a big comedy role. I imagine he’ll be getting a lot more after this, as he seems born for it. The film has a surprisingly great cast around Wilson, too. An uncredited and almost unrecognisable Chris Pine delivers a fantastic performance as the eccentric billionaire criminal Karos. If you’ve seen Horrible Bosses 2, you’ll be getting déjà vu though. He’s equally sociopathic and even begins punching himself in the face in this, too. I’m starting to think Pine enjoys it! Jessica Alba is playing the same character she always does, but who has any complaints about that? And the film has some great cameos from Ray Liotta, David Hasselhoff, Norman Reedus and Shaun White – all briefly playing bizarre versions of themselves! If you’ve ever wanted to hear The Hoff recount an anecdote in which he claims he ‘forcibly sodomized a Vietcong colonel with a stick grenade’, you’re in the right place.


This film deserved a bigger release. With the right marketing, Stretch could’ve been huge. It’s funnier and smarter than most comedies of recent years, it’s more exciting than most thrillers of recent years and it’s just a damn fun ride. There’s no rectifying the small release. But we can build the audience that it deserves. Watch Stretch. Love Stretch. Tell your friends about Stretch. Whether or not the film finds any big success, it’s destined for cult classic status. So, despite a rather underwhelming opening, Stretch quickly finds its feet and takes the viewer on a hell of a fun ride. Buckle up.

Stretch drives away with a thoroughly well-deserved 5/5.

★★★★★


Sam Love


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