In Review: Empire State (2013) on DVD

by Daniel Goodwin on 18/03/2014

empire state

Following recent turns in The Expendables 2 (2012) and The Hunger Games films, Liam Hemsworth (brother of Thor) slinks into DTV fair playing dim-wit wannabe cop turned security guard Chris Potamitis in this flat and lacklustre action drama.

After landing a job as a security guard protecting $25 million of cash in an armoured car depository, Chris is tempted into robbing the loot by gnarly ruffian and best pal Eddie (Michael Angarano). The pair then come under pressure from a police unit led by brickhouse cop Dwayne Johnson following a bungled robbery attempt by local hoodlums attempting to hijack the cash.

Inspired by a true story, Empire State hovers lost between bland action silage and indie gangster flick, attempting to emulate early Scorsese without the wise-guy finesse, plot weight or visual flair. Struggling to find an identity, it fails to excel in either genre while chestnut performances with lack of conviction and hackneyed gun battles bring little to the fleeting, tepid tale that chugs forth amiably but never springs into life.

Hemsworth is vacuous as the hard done by Potamitis while Dwayne Johnson’s brow furrowing (like Roger Moore’s eyebrow raising) is no substitute for a good performance. As inquisitive Detective Ransome, Johnson is bemused and out of his depth but, as expected, comes to life during the fight sequences while Michael Angarano is grating as wannabe mook ruffian Eddie: the type of character Steve Buscemi would have owned in the 90s.

The clichéd gangster traits and corrupt cop template is well trodden and the cast struggle to deliver the emotional punch required of their underdeveloped characters, which is the film’s key flaw. In the hands of the right director twenty years ago, when indie crime dramas were fresh and innovative in the shadow of Tarantino, something worthwhile could have maybe been crafted from the source but Empire State dawdles and is far too fleeting to make an impact in the manner of the films that inspired it.

Extras: The forgettable deleted scenes are compensated by a decent making of featurette “Creating an Empire”, director commentary and an interesting interview piece, “Anatomy of a Heist” with the real Chris Potamitis, who elaborates on the events that inspired the story without going into specific incriminating details, despite a slight probing by director Dito Montiel.

Daniel has awarded Empire State (2013) on DVD two Torches of Truth


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