When John Falcon is sent to prison for ten hard years, he has had a lot of time to think about the people that screwed him over to land him in there. He may be a criminal, but he was trying to do the right thing; to start fresh before he was betrayed. These people include his own brother and wife, but he doesn’t care; he’s getting out soon to make them pay. This guy is pissed and has nothing to lose.
AMERICAN MUSCLE is directed by first timer Ravi Dharma and written by John Fallon. In the lead role is Nick Principe who has a lot of B-movies under his belt and he doesn’t have a lot of dialogue in this role. Most of the character’s personality is based on his size and intimidating looks. He does the expressionless, emotionless force well.
The movie itself feels like a mixture of Robert Rodriguez meets Quentin Tarantino with a hint of a Vincent Gallo film, but it’s not pulled off as well. The filmmakers took all that and are trying to fit in a mold. It’s just a string of violence, sex, and drug use that wants to be a grindhouse film, but it feels forced and not organic at all. The script is also very dry and that makes the characters have no depth. I will say that the way the enemies are depicted are like that in a video game. As Falcon moves from one situation to another, the over-the-top gang members get tougher and weirder than the last.
Nick Principe as John Falcon
Robin Sydney as Darling
Todd Farmer as Sam Falcon
Trent Haaga as Styles
John Fallon as Tongues
The film has been encoded in a 1080p AVC transfer. There is a lot of different lighting in a variety of settings. During the daytime scenes in the desert, the contrasting is well done and the colors are separate and bright. The scenes filmed at dusk are also good, but this is also when the crushing creeps in to the movie. The blacks aren’t very solid with the crushing and pixilation near the lit halos. There are also contrast issues seen in every scene not in the mid-day sun of the desert.
The audio is mixed in a 5.1 DTS-HD MA sounds great. The sound effects are strong and separated. Gunshots are loud and different depending on the weapon used in the scene. Also, the ambient sounds in the evening shots are of the desert life and it’s clear through every channel. The LFEs are decent and well used with the throaty engine of Falcon’s car. There are times, however, where the sound can become a little muddled, but I’m guessing that could be due to them not being able to reshoot much. All around, the mix is good and successful on the release.
As far as extras go, there are few and scarce. On the other hand, the commentary is informative of how difficult this film was on the cast and crew, but it’s the only extra on the release.
-Commentary with Director Ravi Dharma and Producer Travis Stevens – The pair explain the difficulties of making a no budget movie. The director Dharma describes the movie as being a “neo-grindhouse” film.
1080p AVC MPEG-4
English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
English Dolby Digital 2.0
AMERCAN MUSCLE is a movie that is very much in the spirit of the old grindhouse films. The only issue is it has taken too much of the negative aspects of the genre. I understand that it was made on no budget at all, but it shows. The release itself has subpar video, but a decent audio mix with an array of effects and soundtrack. There are barely any extras on the disc, however, the commentary explains the hardships of making this movie. If you are a fan of the grindhouse genre and gory indie movies, then this is an easy pick-up.