Misconduct Blu-ray Review

Anthony Hopkins is a winner in this loser

Although Misconduct plays on the fear of pharmaceutical companies, the death of 200 people due to a faulty clinical trial only serves as a background event. Misconduct draws empathy toward a hot shot lawyer, Ben Cahill (Josh Duhamel), and his complex personal relationships.

Drowned in its own morose tonality, the film becomes scattered with narrative litter, twisting itself around bizarre story beats. Cahill draws a class action suit against the maker of Biprexalin, a corporation headed by an imposing Arthur Denning (Anthony Hopkins). It is to little credit of Misconduct – Hopkins commands the screen no matter the circumstances.

Drama becomes overplayed. The score emotes similarly to a Hitchcock-ian thriller with Silence of the Lambs bored into its piano keys. Compositions are inadvertently comical. That matches Al Pacino who concocts a nonsense accent for his law firm veteran, Charles Abrams. The twang in his voice has limited purpose.

Directed by first timer Shintari Shimosawa (producer on The Grudge and its sequel) he appears to channel a different genre. While Misconduct carries a body count, the listless storytelling relies on atmosphere ill-fitted to the wanting thriller being produced. Characters feel distant even if they’re supposed to be otherwise, creating an invisible barrier between performers.

Everything hinges on smart people doing dumb things.

As Misconduct nears its close, eye rolling monologues begin to pepper the script. Surprises and twists make these intellectual characters out to be idiots. Everything hinges on smart people doing dumb things. Dreary philosophizing about life cannot save the film from those moronic actions. Misconduct could be solved by a phone call which no one wants to make for arbitrary reasons.

Each player is constructed to be miserable. Cahill is overworked, distant to his wife, and mentally anguished over the loss of his baby. His wife (Alice Eve) hardly speaks above her depression. Malin Akerman serves only as a broken woman who enjoys abuse. The happiest are the corrupt, Hopkins’ Denning especially. With sure steps and strong will, he’s the only sane person here – and he killed people before the film started.

Misconduct’s grandest error is building itself around the relationship of Duhamel and Eve. Neither have a spark to carry the narrative, and their misery suffocates the movie’s core. Credits roll on Misconduct without saying anything. The corrupt are still corrupt and money still means power. No amount of good can overcome greed – that’s too cynical an ideal for a drama concerned with revealing the truth in business.

Misconduct Blu-ray screen shot 8

Video

Lacking in contrast, much of Misconduct feels flat. Light sources are avoided and excessively orange color grading sits over each scene. This warmer hue hits the contrast, further eroding image depth.

Black levels offer a save. Since cinematography veers toward the darker end, shadows need density. Digital work from the Arri Alexa does well to maintain blacks, and does so without sparking into a fit of noise. Each shot is consistent and stable, at least.

Given the conditions, firm definition can be hard to find. Focus stays sharp but fine detail struggles to peak from behind the cloud of low light. An aerial shot of New York is the best thing offered, and this doesn’t appear to come from Misconduct but from stock footage.

Misconduct adheres to its aesthetic. That’s admirable. Lionsgate has done right to serve the look well on Blu-ray, even if the style is unappealing.

Audio

City ambiance is unusually thick for this DTS-HD track, odd since the mix stays centered elsewhere. While New York streets are an audible part of the mix, dialog makes no attempt to step away from the middle channel even as characters move off screen.

A touch of pleasing bass comes from a motorcycle engine and then the dynamic range becomes blown out inside of a club. Bass exaggerates to an obnoxious degree during this one scene.

Extras

Most of the cast features in a 15-minute making-of, bland as the featurette recaps the story. Three deleted scenes are of mild excitement too.

Click on the images below for full resolution screen captures taken directly from the Blu-ray. Images have not been altered in any way during the process.