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Paradise Highway Blu-ray Review

There’s not enough story in ‘Paradise Highway.’ 

Written and directed by Anna Gutto, ‘Paradise Highway’ is a dramatic thriller that revolves around a trucker (Sally) who is roped into a smuggling job for her brother (Dennis). You see, Dennis is about to be released from prison, but he seems to have gotten himself into some seedy business on the inside. Sally soon discovers that her cargo is a young girl named Leila. After the drop off goes south, Sally muls over what to do next while she waits for her brother to get out of prison. Elsewhere in the story, a police officer from Yale (Sterling) works with a grouchy retired consultant (Gerick) to locate the abducted women being trafficked. 

On paper ‘Paradise Highway’ is a movie with plenty of subject matters to dig into. Unfortunately, the end product is lacking. Not only is the middle act entirely uneventful as Sally merely drives around and waits for her brother to get out of prison all while the cops wander around sites to investigate, but the movie’s exploration of broken prison and police systems, the world of female truck drivers, and stomach churning human trafficking is entirely surface level. This could have been a hard hitting and eye-opening thriller but instead it’s a movie in need of a deeper story that would allow its subject matters (and characters) to breathe more. 

With all of that said though, for a Grindstone Releasing movie, this is better than the norm. It may not have successfully accomplished what it set out to do, but you can see Anna Gutto was trying to create a movie with something profound to say. That’s more than can be said for a lot of derivative direct to home video thrillers.

One thing ‘Paradise Highway’ isn’t lacking is talent as the cast contains Juliette Binoche, Frank Grillo, Morgan Freeman, and Cameron Monaghan. Binoche seems to be outside of her comfort zone here and, indeed, looks a little uncomfortable at points. However, her chemistry with the young actress Hala Finley (who turns in an impressive performance) goes a long way here. Frank Grillo is Frank Grillo. You know what you’re getting with him consistently. Cameron Monaghan continues to be a perplexing actor. We’ve seen him do quality performances in TV (‘Gotham’) and even video games (‘Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order’), but there’s a lot of film roles where he’s stiff and miscast. This is one of those roles. Finally, there’s Morgan Freeman as Gerick. Surprisingly, he doesn’t phone it in here and goes all in on the character who may be a bit of a jerk, but he has a heart. 


Presentation: 2.39:1 1080p. B

Audio Track: 5.1 DTS-HD MA. Grade: B+

* Digital copy
* ‘Making Paradise Highway’ featurette
* Theatrical trailer
* 5 minutes of deleted scenes with optional commentary by Anna Gutto.
* Commentary by writer/director Anna Gutto. 

August 25, 2022 - Posted by | Blu-Ray review | , , ,

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