"The Walker" DVD Review
June 05, 2008 by Zach Demeter
Another in the ďWow Iíve never heard of that movie but it looks pretty goodĒ series, The Walker didnít even bother at a long theatrical run in the states, releasing in a scant fourteen theaters and grossing less than eighty thousand. Not that box office receipts have always been the measure of a good film, but despite the films strong cast and fair amount of positive critical reception (coming in at about a fifty-fifty split), The Walker simply disappeared for nearly half a year while Image Entertainment prepared its DVD release.
Set in Washington D.C., The Walker revolves around Carter Page III (Woody Harrelson), a witty and powerful figure among the political elite. While he has a regular job, Carter spends most of his time chauffeuring the wives of some of the most popular political figures in the world, as well as being a frequent card player and confident to most of them. Tensions always remained high in the political environment, but things really drew to a head when a scandal breaks out concerning one of Carterís friends, Lynn Lockner (Kristin Scott Thomas). Choosing to cover for her while an investigation into the grisly murder of her lover begins, Carter finds himself a suspect and one who must help clear his name himself.
The Walker looks and sounds like a terribly interesting film, but after watching it and being completely bewildered as to watch to call the film, I can safely say it is of the ďstuffierĒ variety. I use that word because itís definitely for an older audience, one that can appreciate an incredibly dry and slow film about as much as they can sustain a dull political dinner that theyíre required to attend. While itís certainly a unique film in its own right, The Walker simply isnít something thatís going to spark the interest of the common filmgoer by any meansÖbut thatís not due to any real flaw of the film, itís simply how it was designed.
While I havenít seen director Paul Schraderís other popular works, many have compared this film to American Gigolo and Schrader himself even commented that he considered the film to be more of a ďfollow-upĒ to the 1980 Gigolo than any kind of true sequel or remake. Of course the comparisons between the two films could continue to be drawn, but seeing as I hadnít seen the Richard Gere original, I had nothing to compare this film to and that alone is a reason I think I found it so unique in several ways.
The Walker is unlike any other film Iíd seen previously and there are several reasons for that. There arenít many truly political films that Iíve seen (the closest would be the recent Charlie Wilsonís War) and while that certainly made the film feel a bit drier than usual, the whole setting of the film is what felt new to me. Iíd never hear of a ďwalkerĒ before, so that was something new to learn about and just in general the whole situation of the film made for an interesting premise.
Unfortunately with the films dryness come many tedious and relatively boring scenes. For a big scandal we rarely see much more than dialogue scenes between characters, with very little violence or big brawls ever breaking out. The filmís most exciting moment comes towards its climax when an on-foot chase begins that is incredibly slow in pace, but thatís our big exciting ticket for the entire film. Itís not that the subject matter isnít interesting, the film just spreads it around at such a leisurely pace that itís difficult to become fully invested in it when youíre never really given a taste of just how big the scandal that Carterís trying to cover up is. Yeah, itís political and it could ruin careers but so what? Who are the men and women heís really trying to protect? We learn theyíre trying to blackmail the vice president or some such, but itís all so vague and non-detailed that youíll likely have to get online and read through a few film summaries to fully understand the film. Had the film simply sprinkled a few more details, it would have been a much richer film, but as is itís an interesting story wrapped up in a terribly dull skin.
One way to look at the film is that itís an overcooked steak. All of the details and juiciness of the film was licked away by the intense flames that the scandal was about and what weíre left with is a piece of meat that takes several glasses of liquid to wash down. Itís not the steak didnít still maintain some flavor; it just wasnít good enough to really recommend to anyone to try for themselves. I didnít really mean for that metaphor to work out so well, but it did, surprisingly enoughóthis isnít recommended in the least, but itís an interesting look at the political environment and the performances by everyone, notably Harrison, are really quite remarkable and worth a Rental at least.
The Walker arrives on DVD via way of Image Entertainment with a solid DVD presentation. The menus for the film are quite inspired, with a bit of animation and music thrown in through the few menu options. Also nicely done is the packaging for the film; itís not overstated and the cover art is really well done. It makes the film look more exciting than it actually is, but thatís its job I suppose.
Video and audio for the film are what youíd expect; thereís a fair amount of grain and general lack of sharpness in the transfer of the film, although there are segments that look better than others. The film really just seems to be under lit more than anything, which is the transferís major issue. Accompanying the video is a fair 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround track that remains front channel focused except for the crowd areas which get a bit of surround play. English and Spanish subtitles are included as well.
Extras for this release are limited to two tiny extras: "The Making of The Walker" (3:29) and Theatrical Trailer (1:42). The making-of is really more of a plot-summary by the actors and director more than anything, as we see very little on-set footage or any real insight into how the film was made. Itís a rather disappointing extra, mainly because its runtime is so short thereís no time for any kind of exposition about the film other than a few very brief comments.
Overall The Walker DVD can be safely Skipped. Itís worth a rental for the film if youíre interested, but thereís nothing on the extras side of this DVD worth watching.