“Blow Out” was officially released in 1981. (same year Mad Max: The Road Warrior came out) It received praise from critics including Gene Siskel & Roger Ebert. However, the film flopped at the box office. Overtime, Blow Out earned a cult following. Quentin Tarantino mentioned Blow Out as one of his all-time favorite films. Hence, the reason he casted John Travolta in “Pulp Fiction.” The Criterion Collection digitally restored the film on DVD/Blu-Ray as spine number 562. They also gave it a 4K UHD upgrade. Plus, any version of the film includes Brian De Palma’s directorial debut, “Murder a la Mod.” Two for the price of one.
Today’s review contains no SPOILERS. Feel free to read my non-spoiler article. Is Blow Out worth your spare time? Let’s find out. Shall we?
Superb & Lowly Aspects
Superb: John Travolta did an excellent job for his performance. To prepare for the role, John suffered from insomnia to make his character both paranoid and obsessed.
Fun Fact: Brian De Palma wanted Al Pacino in the lead role. He changed his mind in favor of John. Al later worked with Brian in “Scarface” & “Carlito’s Way.”
Other Cast Members such as Nancy Allen (Officer Lewis from RoboCop) & John Lithgow both did a decent job for their respective performances.
Brian De Palma (Scarface, Carlito’s Way, Mission Impossible) did an excellent job directing. He also wrote the script making sure every plot point is organized.
Cinematography was shot flawlessly. Brian retains his trademark of split-screens.
Pacing didn’t feel like a slow burn. I was hooked since the opening.
Chemistry between Jack & Sally felt normal. Thank goodness a forced romance didn’t happen.
Wait a minute, two characters are named, Jack & Sally. Twelve Years before “The Nightmare Before Christmas.” I guess Tim Burton’s a fan of Brian De Palma.
Blow Out is influenced by “The Conversation.” Brian mentioned the story’s also inspired by working on sound mix for “Dressed to Kill.” Another film in The Criterion Collection.
One character is named, Manny. Two Years Later, another Manny appeared in Scarface.
Soundtrack has a catchy beat matching the tone.
Elements of government conspiracy reflect JFK’s assassination and the Watergate Scandal.
We learn about Jack’s previous job working with the law to expose police corruption prior to becoming a sound engineer.
Primary Themes are Paranoia, Obsession, Consequence & Guilt. Each one’s handled carefully.
I can’t tell you how it ends. You’re gonna be shocked. If you have already seen it. You probably know why.
Lowly: I couldn’t find nothing wrong. I’m giving Brian and his crew an Extra Point for making a flawless film as possible.
The Final Verdict: A, FOR APEX!
From my perspective, Blow Out is a phenomenal nail-biting underrated mystery-thriller worth your spare time. If you’re a Criterion enthusiast, grab a copy on 4K UHD. Don’t forget to check out Brian De Palma’s documentary of his career produced by A24 and co-directed by Noah Baumbach & Jake Paltrow. Which films in The Criterion Collection should I review next? Please leave a comment and I’ll respond back.