Director: Andrea Berloff
Cast: Melissa McCarthy, Tiffany Haddish, Elisabeth Moss
Release Date: November 5, 2019
A Review By: Kevin Lovell
Film Rating: 6/10
Disc Rating: 7/10
Between 8th Ave. and the Hudson River, the Irish mafia runs 20 blocks of a tough New York City neighborhood known as Hell’s Kitchen. But for mob wives Kathy (Melissa McCarthy), Ruby (Tiffany Haddish) and Claire (Elizabeth Moss), things are about to take a dramatic and radical turn. When the FBI sends their husbands to prison, the three women take business into their own hands by running the rackets and taking out the competition.
Please Note: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided me with a free copy of the Blu-ray I reviewed in this Post. The opinions I share are my own.
Journey back to 1978 Hell’s Kitchen in the dramatic thriller ‘The Kitchen’ which tells the tale of three mob wives who find themselves struggling to survive after being shortchanged following the arrest of their husbands. Unwilling to let their families suffer and seeing no shortage of problems in the current way those in charge are running the operation, the trio decides to take matters into their own hands and pick up the slack, slowly but surely claiming a firmer hold on the territory while being rewarded with more than enough money to get by. Unwilling to give up such a good thing, these women will have to decide just how far they’re willing to go in order to fully run things, not to mention hold onto the top spot.
Written for the screen and directed by Andrea Berloff (known for her writing credits on ‘Straight Outta Compton’, ‘Blood Father’ and more) and based upon the DC/Vertigo comic book series of the same name by Ollie Masters and Ming Doyle respectively, Berloff does a nice job at the helm of ‘The Kitchen’ which also marks her directorial debut, capturing a gritty and grimy edge to the locale and supporting characters and never hesitating to take things in random directions. The film also features a pretty solid cast with plenty of familiar faces and includes Melissa McCarthy (The Happytime Murders), Tiffany Haddish (Girls Trip), Elisabeth Moss (US), Domhnall Gleeson (American Made), James Badge Dale (Hold the Dark), Brian d’Arcy James (Spotlight), Jeremy Bobb (TV’s Jessica Jones), Margo Martindale (TV’s The Americans), Common (TV’s Hell On Wheels), Bill Camp (Joker) and more, with each offering fitting and competent enough performances for the most part in each of their respective roles, albeit nothing overly exceptional.
‘The Kitchen’ is a tense, violent and quite enjoyable crime thriller largely grounded in reality, yet with a fictional twist that allows for its share of surprises along the way (some far more rewarding than others). Interestingly enough, ‘The Kitchen’ is actually based upon a DC/Vertigo comic series of the same name which I was somehow previously unaware of, and the comic basis helps some of the more ridiculous or somewhat implausible content within feel logical; although for a comic based movie it certainly keeps things generally down to earth in nearly every way which allows it to work just as well as a fictional period piece thriller about organized crime. It may not be one of the most remarkable or noteworthy film of the year, but it’s a simple and enjoyable crime thriller in its own right with a capable cast led by McCarthy, Haddish and Moss with solid guidance from writer/director Andrea Berloff. I would encourage those already intrigued by the film and/or fans of the key cast to still give it a chance whenever it might be convenient. It’ll likely prove worth a couple hours of your time and the price of a rental for anyone who missed it in theaters but was looking forward to it, and giving it a whirl whenever it happens to hit your favorite premium channel or streaming service surely can’t hurt for those just casually intrigued. It’s a decent and surprisingly violent movie with its share of strong points and shouldn’t have much trouble holding your attention and interest throughout its duration.
Overall, ‘The Kitchen’ is an entertaining crime thriller with plenty of twists and turns throughout the criminal world it focuses upon and no shortage of violent chaos to keep things consistently tense. It may not manage to do anything exceptional with the concept aside from putting women at the center of it all and it has a tendency to drag at times, but altogether finds its way to becoming a fairly solid crime drama that benefits from the capable cast populating it. ‘The Kitchen’ may not be a groundbreaking masterpiece of any kind, but it offers up enough tension and dramatic excitement to hold your attention and if you’re looking already forward to it, it’s certainly worth a watch. Nonetheless, I would suggest playing it safe and renting a copy before making a blind purchase of the Blu-ray if you haven’t seen the film yet.
The Blu-ray release of ‘The Kitchen’ features a full 1080p High Definition presentation utilizing the film’s original 2.40:1 Cinemascope Aspect Ratio. The video presentation looks great altogether and delivers a sharp, clean and smooth presentation from start to finish, with no notable faults or issues to be found throughout. It holds up quite smoothly even during the numerous darkly lit and heavily populated sequences, never causing anything onscreen to become negatively affected or rendered indiscernible. Overall, this is a solid high definition video presentation from Warner Bros. that serves up a clean and nicely detailed experience that shouldn’t disappoint.
The Blu-ray release features a 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. This multichannel soundtrack provides a clean, sharp and occasionally quite aggressive audio presentation throughout. It repeatedly takes full advantage of all five available channels in order to send gunshots, bits of dialogue, nature and vehicle activity, along with plenty more throughout the various speakers whenever fitting and never allowing any dialogue or other audio elements that may be occurring simultaneously to become distorted or rendered inaudible in the process. Overall, this is a great 5.1 DTS-HD MA soundtrack that delivers across the board while contributing some extra fun to the viewing experience.
The Blu-ray release of ‘The Kitchen’ includes a few decent extras. Included on the release is one ‘Deleted Scene’ from the movie (running approximately 90 seconds in length), in addition to a couple Behind the Scenes Featurettes that include some interviews/comments with the cast and crew, plus behind the scenes footage and more. The included Featurettes are: ‘Running Hell’s Kitchen’ (running approximately 9 minutes) and ‘Taking Over the Neighborhood’ (approximately 5 minutes).