'Inherit the Viper' Blu-ray
Will Josh Hartnett "Inherit the Viper?" Don't worry, our review of the new Blu-ray won't spoil it for you.
A family of opioid dealers in Appalachia find their personal lives falling apart, just as threats to their criminal activities emerge. Stars Josh Hartnett, Margarita Levieva, Owen Teague, Valorie Curry, Chandler Riggs, with Dash Mihok and Bruce Dern.
Josh Hartnett leads a solid cast in Inherit the Viper, a tale about a family’s struggle to make it in Appalachia by dealing opioids. It’s a timely subject, and the film is bolstered by some fine performances, particularly by Josh Hartnett (Penny Dreadful, Sin City, Pearl Harbor).
Hartnett plays Kip Conley, a veteran who is having a crisis of conscience over the “family business,” which is creating addicts throughout their small town and putting them at odds with the local sheriff (Dash Mihok), who is having an affair with Kip’s sister Josie Conley (Margarita Levieva).
Josie, however, doesn’t want to give up the business, and we see at several points that it’s turned her cold and ruthless. She’s even willing to bring their younger brother Boots (Owen Teague) into the business, which nearly gets him killed. When she goes too far to protect the family, things spiral out of control.
Given the subject matter, the storyline should be riveting, but the formulaic script by Andrew Crabtree doesn’t deliver the emotional knock-out punch you hoped it would. While the cast all deliver fine performances, they needed more material. The best scenes involve the Conley’s interactions with the addicts they sell to, and some potential was missed by focusing on the familial relationships.
Anthony Jerjen’s lackluster direction doesn’t help, relying on some contrived dramatic plot points instead of building a sense of impending doom. You know this story isn’t going to end well for someone. Rather than play up the jeopardy, however, the film gets bogged down in the details, and loses sight of the dynamics of the story.
Despite being only 84 minutes long, the film seems to plod along, until it makes an abrupt left turn, leading to a violent, swift resolution. Other than a few random quarrels and some mention of the police closing in, however, the story doesn’t build the emotional heft it needed to make an impact. What could have been a truly devastating finale seems somewhat muted, despite the actors’ efforts to elevate it.
I’ve always considered Hartnett an underrated actor, and he doesn’t disappoint here. He depicts Kip as a war-weary veteran who tries to justify his criminal lifestyle with some common decency and understanding for the people he deals to. When things begin to go south, he has to decide whether to do the right thing, setting off a chain reaction of tragedy. Hartnett’s performance makes the movie work, and he’s the main reason you should give this film a watch.
The supporting cast is solid, including Bruce Dern in what amounts to an extended cameo. He’s actually quite good in his limited screen time. It’s too bad the writer didn’t make his role of more consequence to the plot. Chandler Riggs also appears in a small role, and he’s also very good. He seems to be transitioning well from his time on “The Walking Dead.”
I didn’t expect to get a happy ending from this film, but I did expect the story to live up to its potential. Hartnett, Levieva, and Teague all provide fine performances, and they are the reason to give this film at least a watch. You just get the feeling it could have been much more meaningful.
VIDEO AND AUDIO
The Blu-ray’s high definition transfer seems a bit soft for a new movie. The desaturated image gives the film the bleak tone the director was likely going for, but it does the transfer no favors.
Blacks are deep and steady, but image detail struggles a bit in the shadows in some scenes. Overall, the video is a bit too dark, and the colors could have used a little more pop. Most of the film takes place in low-light settings, and the actor’s performances are often cloaked in shadow. It’s hard to appreciate them. The daytime scenes look fine, with a little artificial grain, but the transfer is inconsistent.
The audio is an excellent 5.1 DTS-HDMA soundtrack, and while it isn’t a reference-quality mix, it does provide good clarity from the center channel and some nice instances of surround effect.
No special features are included on the Blu-ray, with the exception of a digital copy, redeemable through services including VUDU, iTunes, and FandangoNow. Lionsgate codes are currently not compatible with Movies Anywhere.
- Release Date: March 10, 2020
- Rating: R (violence, language, drug use)
- Running Time: 84 minutes
- Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
- Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HDMA
- Subtitles: English for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Spanish
- Special Features: Digital Copy
- Label: Lionsgate
- MSRP: $22.99