Genre: Mystery / Thriller
Director: Brian De Palma
Starring: John Travolta, Nancy Allen, John Lithgow
Duration: 108 min.
A movie sound engineer accidentally records evidence that proves a car accident was murder and consequently finds himself in danger.
Blow Out is a film written and directed by Brian De palma. It is a stylish mystery thriller set in Philadelphia and starring John Travolta as a sound effects man for a b-movie studio who accidentally records an assassination. Originally released in theatres in 1981, the film was recently remastered and released on DVD and Blu-Ray by the Criterion Collection.
Visually this is a very stylish film, starting with the intentionally cheesy b-movie murderer's POV opening sequence, the use of split frames and creative camera angles throughout, and the wonderful slow motion climax with Liberty Day fireworks in the backdrop.
The standout among many brilliant scenes is a hypnotic 360 degree panning sequence that takes place in Travolta's character Terry's studio as he discovers that all his tapes have been magnetically erased. The dizzying camera movement, along with the sounds of tape machines turning and clicking, and the static hissing and electrical humming heard as Travolta desperately and frantically plays one empty tape after another is simply amazing.
Speaking of Travolta, this is one of the most impressive performances of his career, showing very good range in a convincing and nuanced role. As for the supporting cast, John Lithgow also impresses as a ruthless and methodical killer, but Nancy Allen who was De Palma's wife at the time, came across as whiny and annoying despite having decent chemistry with Travolta.
The new Criterion release looks incredible and the film does not look or feel as dated as you would expect for a 30 year old movie. I know it's a rare occasion for me to recommend a film that doesn't require subtitles, but Blow Out is a great choice if you are looking for a good entertaining thriller.