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Pawn: DVD + Blu-ray Combo Pack

Pawn (2013) DVD + Blu-ray Combo Pack cover art -- click to buy from Amazon.com Pawn

Video Premiere: April 23, 2013 / Running Time: 88 Minutes / Rating: R

Director: David A. Armstrong / Writer: Jerome Anthony White

Cast: Max Beesley (Billy), Jonathan Bennett (Aaron), Michael Chiklis (Derrick), Common (Jeff Porter), Marton Csokas (Lt. Eric Barnes), Cameron Denny (Nigel), Sean Faris (Nick Davenport), Stephen Lang (Charlie), Ray Liotta (Man in the Suit), Nikki Reed (Amanda Davenport), Jessica Szohr (Bonnie Potroski), Forest Whitaker (Sgt. Will Thompkins), Ronald Guttman (Yuri Mikhalev), Jordan Belfi (Patrick Davenport)

Blu-ray: 2.40:1 Widescreen, Dolby TrueHD 5.1 (English)
DVD: 2.40:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, Dolby Digital 5.1 (English)
Subtitles: English for Hearing Impaired, Spanish / Not Closed Captioned; Extra Not Subtitled or Captioned
Suggested Retail Price: $29.99
Two single-sided, single-layered discs (BD-25 & DVD-5) / Blue Eco-Friendly Keepcase
Also in standalone DVD ($24.98 SRP) and on Amazon Instant Video

Buy Pawn from Amazon.com: Blu-ray + DVD DVD Instant Video

Veteran actor Michael Chiklis seemed poised to have a prominent career in feature films after his Emmy-winning FX drama "The Shield" retired in 2008. He had already gotten his foot in the door playing Ben Grimm, a.k.a. The Thing, in the two Fantastic Four movies. But, though praised for his somewhat thankless work there, those tepidly received superhero films didn't give Chiklis the film career boost you might have expected.
Instead, the bald, husky actor has stuck with television, starring in ABC's one-season dramedy "No Ordinary Family" and with Dennis Quaid in CBS' "Vegas", a period crime drama that may or may not be renewed for a second season. The rigid production schedule of network television has given Chiklis few chances to pop up in feature films. The most recent of those, Pawn, premieres in stores Tuesday on DVD and in a DVD + Blu-ray Combo Pack.

Shortly before midnight in Connecticut (yes, Connecticut, where this was filmed), police sergeant Will Thompkins (Forest Whitaker) grabs a cup of coffee from his favorite 24-hour diner, Be Brite. Everyone there, from the staff to the patrons, is acting erratically, to Thompkins' concern. He soon learns that everyone is on edge because the diner is in the midst of an armed robbery, being conducted by a Brit named Derrick (Chiklis, adopting and relishing a Cockney accent) and his two associates.

Sgt. Will Thompkins (Forest Whitaker) is alarmed by the strange behavior on display at the Be Brite Diner. Derrick (Michael Chiklis) calls the shots with a loaded gun and a firm tone to his Cockney accent.

The crime scene, which is not entirely what it seems, soon develops into a hostage situation. That attracts veteran negotiator Jeff Porter (rapper Common) as well as Lt. Barnes (Marton Csokas), a cop with much personally invested in this job. Those inside the diner include Nick Davenport (Sean Faris, a graduate of the Tom Cruise school of acting), a fresh-out-of-jail reformed car thief, and his waitress friend Bonnie (Jessica Szohr), who are at various points asked to serve as Derrick's mouthpiece. Meanwhile, Nick's wife, the pregnant Amanda (Nikki Reed) is taken into custody by an unnamed man (Ray Liotta) posing as a police official.

The MacGuffin at the center of the heist is an external hard drive belonging to the diner's mobster owner Yuri Mikhalev (Ronald Guttman) and believing to hold severely incriminating evidence.

The directing debut of longtime cinematographer and former assistant camera operator David A. Armstrong (whose credits include the first six Saw movies), Pawn utilizes a slightly nonlinear presentation that makes you anticipate more meaningful twists than it delivers. It seems downright Rashomonic early on, as we see the unsettling scene from a few different perspectives, with just a smidge of backstory. Such flourishes soon fade in favor of a fairly straightforward, tense film spending time both inside and outside the diner.

A hostage situation requires the services of negotiator Jeff Porter (Common). Meanwhile, Ray Liotta has questions for a hospitalized FBI informant.

Screenwriter Jay Anthony White, picking up his second feature credit, populates the film with distinctive characters, like a crippled bartender (Avatar's Stephen Lang) and a nervous waiter (Mean Girls' Jonathan Bennett).
White doesn't bring anything new or remarkable to the genre, relying on devices like a time lock, familiar negotiation exchanges, and an impassioned monologue about French artisan "death clocks" pretty clearly gleamed from an episode of "Pawn Stars." Still, he does manage to craft a fast watch that is sufficiently gripping. The acting from a mix of undiscerning veterans and unfamiliar hopefuls is hit and miss, with Chiklis, also making his feature debut as a producer, by far providing the biggest screen presence.

Pawn was destined to have limited commercial prospects the moment it was acquired by Anchor Bay Films, a distributor that rarely secures double-digit theater counts, at Cannes 2012. One can't object to the studio forgoing a theatrical release, even if the film is more akin to a mediocre one of those than a typically crappy direct-to-video effort.


On Blu-ray, Pawn is treated to great looking picture and strong sound. The 2.40:1 digital visuals stay sharp and clear, while supplying an excellent amount of detail. The Dolby TrueHD 5.1 soundtrack is as potent and active as it ought to be.

Jessica Szohr explains what she likes about the film in "Pawn: Behind the Scenes." Connecticut gangster Yuri Mikhalev (Ronald Guttman) sips coffee on the Pawn DVD main menu.


The only extra on each disc is "Pawn: Behind the Scenes", a 23-minute, 9-second featurette (HD on Blu-ray). In addition to some B-roll, it collects upbeat interview remarks
from a large number of cast members (but not Chiklis or Liotta) and producer Jeff Most. A standard, slightly flabby making-of piece, it complements the film nicely.

Nothing else, not even a trailer for this or other Anchor Bay movies, is included here.

The full-color Blu-ray and plain silver DVD take opposite sides of an eco-friendly Blu-ray case, the latter topped by an insert holding coupons for $2 off the DVD and Blu-ray editions of Killing Them Softly, and three other semi-recent Anchor Bay action titles (Seeking Justice, One in the Chamber, and The Son of No One).

The menu plays silent clips in slowly floating squares against a grayed-out image of the held-up diner unoccupied. The Blu-ray doesn't resume playback, but does let you place bookmarks on the film.

Derrick (Michael Chiklis) explains how it's gonna be to bloodied young ex-con Nick Davenport (Sean Faris) in "Pawn."


Though somewhat unremarkable, the heist thriller Pawn is suitably brisk and engaging. The pacing and plotting are just enough to hold your interest and get you to overlook some off-key moments. While you won't lament the lack of a theatrical release or wish this attracted more than a modest audience, the film is definitely a couple of notches better than the low expectations set by the direct-to-video status. Anchor Bay's Blu-ray combo pack provides a satisfactory release.

Buy Pawn from Amazon.com: Blu-ray + DVD /DVD / Instant Video

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Ray Liotta: All Things Fall Apart Date Night Youth in Revolt Wild Hogs | Jessica Szohr: Piranha
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Reviewed April 17, 2013.

Text copyright 2013 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 2013 Anchor Bay Films, Imprint Entertainment, Most Films, Extravaganza, Red Sea Media, Lainie Productions, 42 Films,
and Anchor Bay Entertainment. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.