Director: Don Cheadle
Cast: Don Cheadle, Ewan McGregor, Emayatzy Corinealdi
Release Date: Available on Blu-ray & DVD July 19, 2016
A Review By: Kevin Lovell
Film Rating: 8/10
Disc Rating: 8/10
MILES AHEAD is a wildly entertaining exploration of one of 20th century music’s creative geniuses, Miles Davis, featuring a career defining performance by Oscar nominee Don Cheadle in the title role. In the midst of a prolific career at the forefront of modern jazz, which Davis referred to as “Social Music,” he virtually disappears from public view for a period of five years in the late 1970s, his musical voice stifled and numbed by drugs and pain medications. Dave Braden (Ewan McGregor), a wily music reporter, forces his way into Davis’ life and, over the next couple of days, the two men unwittingly embark on a wild and sometimes harrowing adventure to recover a stolen tape of the musician’s latest compositions. Plagued by years of regret and loss, Davis flirts with annihilation until he once again finds salvation in his art.
IMPORTANT NOTICE: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment provided me with a free copy of the DVD I reviewed in this Post. The opinions I share are my own.
‘Miles Ahead’ explores the life of music legend Miles Davis (Cheadle) during a point in the late 1970’s when he went quiet and was neither seen, nor heard from in the public eye for a number of years. After persistent reporter Dave Braden (McGregor) forces his way into the home of Davis, a random course of events leads the two to reluctantly join forces in order to retrieve something precious to Miles which was taken from his home. As the two head out on a drug fueled and often dangerous quest, the events and individuals he is forced to encounter causes him to reflect on some of the most notable (and painful) times in his life and career as he begins preparing for whatever may come next.
Directed by Don Cheadle who makes his directorial debut with ‘Miles Ahead’ which he also penned the screenplay for with co-writer Steven Baigelman (Feeling Minnesota, TV’s Wicked City) and Cheadle does a solid job at the helm, delivering a fairly impressive debut behind the camera, in addition to a phenomenal performance in front of the camera with his portrayal of Miles Davis. The film also includes a number of talented folks occupying the supporting cast such as Ewan McGregor (Star Wars Episode I-III), Emayatzy Corinealdi(The Invitation), Michael Stuhlbarg (TV’s Boardwalk Empire), Keith Stanfield (Straight Outta Compton) and more, nearly all of whom deliver highly capable performances in each of their respective roles, even if Cheadle easily steals the show.
‘Miles Ahead’ is a fast paced and powerfully executed portrayal of a troubling time in the life of musician Miles Davis that perfectly recreates two key points in his life. Talented actor Don Cheadle delivers a mesmerizing performance in the title role and captures everything from the appearance, traits and the harsh, raspy voice with impressive accuracy. Cheadle also does a highly capable job behind the camera and ‘Miles Ahead’ serves as a solid directorial debut for the talented star as he brings this tale to life with a beauty represented in even the tamest of sequences thanks to the utilization of the bright colors and other prominent behind the camera decisions. One of the most impressive aspects of Cheadle’s guidance is the perfect time changes which he selects for jumping between time periods, always connecting the two with a brilliant switch that never failed to bring a smile to my face. ‘Miles Ahead’ is definitely worth checking out for anyone who is a fan of Miles Davis and his music, as well as any fans of Don Cheadle who are certain to appreciate his outstanding portrayal of Davis at the very least, even if the content of the film may not tend to be your cup of tea.
Overall, ‘Miles Ahead’ is a powerful, gorgeous and unique exploration of two key points in the life of musician Miles Davis. Don Cheadle makes a notable directorial debut with the film (which he also co-wrote) and guides this musical tale with an obvious passion, while also delivering a phenomenal performance in the title role of Davis. While the film may not interest everyone, I would recommend anyone who may have even the slightest interest in the film, its basis or Cheadle’s work make a point of giving it a whirl. It’s a clever and wonderfully entertaining journey and certainly well worth the cost of a rental.
The Blu-ray release of ‘Miles Ahead’ features a full 1080p High Definition presentation utilizing the film’s original 2.40:1 Cinemascope Aspect Ratio. The video presentation looks outstanding and delivers a sharp, colorful and outright gorgeous presentation from start to finish. It holds up admirably even during the darkly lit and fast moving sequences and never allows anything occurring on screen to become even slightly distorted or negatively affected, let alone rendered indiscernible. Overall, this is another exceptional high definition video presentation from Sony that should easily thrill even the pickiest of individuals.
The Blu-ray release features a lossless 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. This lossless multichannel soundtrack provides a consistently crisp, discrete and highly capable audio presentation. Utilizing all five available channels in order to regularly allow the gorgeous music so prominent within the film to expand in all of its glory, while also taking advantage of the surround channels in order to send some bullets whizzing past, along with plenty of crowd chatter and more; always making certain that any dialogue which may be occurring simultaneously remains fully audible. Overall, this is a solid 5.1 channel DTS-HD MA soundtrack that contributes nicely to the overall viewing experience and should please the masses.
The Blu-ray release of ‘Miles Ahead’ includes a few notable extras. Included on the release is an ‘Audio Commentary with Director/Co-writer/Producer/Actor Don Cheadle and Co-writer Steven Baigelman’, in addition to a Behind the Scenes Featurette ‘The Truth: Becoming Miles Davis’ which includes interviews/comments with the cast and crew (running approximately 21 minutes in length), and footage from the ‘Sundance Film Festival Q&A’ where the film was featured (running approximately 22 minutes). The ‘Theatrical Trailer’ is also included (approximately 2 minutes).