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96 Minutes (DVD Review)

29 Jun, 2012 By: John Latchem

$22.99 DVD
Rated ‘R’ for violent content and pervasive language.
Stars Brittany Snow, Evan Ross, Christian Serratos, J. Michael Trautmann, David Oyelowo.

With 96 Minutes, writer-director Aimée Lagos has crafted a taut little thriller about a hostage situation and the factors that led to a horrific night for its main characters.

It begins with four kids caught up in a moment of chaos: Kevin (J. Michael Trautmann) and Dre (Evan Ross, son of Diana) speeding down the street late at night holding a gun on two girls, Carley (Brittany Snow) and Lena (Christian Serratos), in the backseat. Lena has been shot in the head, and Carley begs her captors to take them to a hospital. Dre and Kevin debate whether there’s any scenario that will let them escape while leaving the girls alive.

As the story builds toward its heartbreaking conclusion, Lagos builds intrigue through the use of a Tarantino-esque time-shifting narrative that jumps between the car and quieter moments with the characters earlier in the day. Carley is a college student hoping to study law. Lena discovers her boyfriend is cheating on her. And Kevin and Dre are dealing with the politics of life in a gang. Kevin wants to join, but Dre won’t let him. And yet despite Dre’s efforts to get out, his sense of free will seems constrained by his environment.

The movie is filled with these little moments of subtle social commentary, subverting expectations while never passing judgment.

The film’s lone extra is an informative commentary by Lagos in which she is joined by actor David Oyelowo (Red Tails), who plays a restaurant owner entangled into the main plot. One of the more interesting revelations is that Snow delivered a great performance in spite of suffering a migraine throughout most of the shoot. What better way to fuel her character’s angst.

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