D-Tox (2002)
By: Craig Villinger  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
Universal (Australia). Region 2 & 4, PAL. 2.35:1 (16:9 enhanced). English DD 5.1. English Subtitles. 91 Minutes
The Movie
Director: Jim Gillespie
Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Tom Berenger, Charles Dutton, Sean Patrick Flanery, Dina Meyer, Robert Patrick, Christopher Fulford, Robert Prosky, Courtney B. Vance, Polly Walker, Jeffrey Wright, Mif, Angela Alvarado
Screenplay: Ron L. Brinkerhoff
Tagline: Survival is a killer
Country: USA
AKA: Eye See You
Sylvester Stallone is Jake Malloy, an FBI agent on the trail of a sadistic serial killer who is specifically targeting police officers in what appears to be a bizarre sort of cat and mouse game. With virtually no clues to work with, the cops are at a bit of a loss, so to make things a little more interesting the killer decides to up the ante by slaughtering Malloy's own girlfriend in very nasty circumstances. Now many blokes would consider being single again a good thing, but not Malloy. In fact, he handles the situation in a manner most unbefitting of a Sylvester Stallone character. Instead of strapping on an M60 and seeking violent revenge, Malloy becomes a complete head case who goes into a severe bout of depression and develops an unhealthy taste for the turps, which ultimately leads to an attempt at topping himself courtesy of a couple of slashed wrists.

Enter Charles Hendricks (Dutton), a fellow FBI agent who believes he has the cure for all of Malloy's ills. Hendricks drags Malloy off to an old underground missile silo that has been converted into a rehabilitation clinic that deals exclusively with police officers, and is located in an isolated, snow-covered wilderness. Run by an ex cop (Kristofferson), this clinic aims to not only cure the patients of their various dependencies, but to also tackle their own personal demons head-on, and after getting a look at the group of dubious characters that have checked in for treatment it is apparent that the old doc and his small team of assistants and maintenance crew will have their work cut out for them. Among the small group of patients is Lopez - a tough as nails LAPD ball buster, "Reverend Jones" - A burnt out homicide cop who has discovered religion at the bottom of a bottle of Jack Daniels, Noah (Robert Patrick) - An egotistical SWAT member whose buff physique was probably not the result of proper diet and exercise, and Jaworski - a cop who is so hopeless that he managed to botch his own suicide by shooting his cheek out. With a group like this, things are bound to get interesting!

Malloy barely has enough time to unpack his things before one of the patients is found dead as the result of an apparent suicide. This by itself seems to be no cause for concern, but when another patient turns up dead the following night, all and sundry start becoming a little suspicious, and when a third person is added to the list Malloy begins to suspect that the killer who has haunted him over the past few months has somehow found his way into the facility, and that one of the patients isn't exactly who they are claiming to be. Isolated by an extreme blizzard, the group has nowhere to run, and as their numbers dwindle even further they decide that the only way they will come out of this alive is to go on the offensive and try to flush out the traitor who is lurking amongst them.

Sylvester Stallone's latest effort has finally seen the light of day after sitting on the shelf for almost three years (production on D-Tox finished before Sly started work on Get Carter). Directed by Jim Gillespie (I Know What You Did Last Summer), D-Tox initially looks as though it will be another The Silence of the Lambs inspired serial killer thriller (complete with an opening title sequence that is reminiscent of Finchers Se7en), but once the action shifts to the isolated rehab clinic it seems to change gears and turns itself into a good old fashioned slasher picture, albeit with a few subtle twists on the standard formula. The usual cast of attractive teenagers is replaced with a group of much older characters, although their various inner demons and addictions give them the same vulnerability that we expect from the "knife-bait" in films of this sort, and Sly's emotionally shattered leading man role makes for an interesting change to the usual "female teenage virgin in distress" that we have become accustomed to seeing.

A fantastic cast has been assembled for this movie, with many familiar faces starring alongside Sly such as Tom Berenger (Platoon), Kris Kristofferson (Blade), Robert Patrick (T2), Dina Myer (Starship Troopers), Charles Dutton, and Sean Patrick Flannery, however virtually none of them are put to good use (with the exception of Patrick who is great in his role) and the film itself seems to be missing bits and pieces here and there, displaying all the hallmarks of a movie that has been drastically cut in order to reduce its running time. It almost looks as though they have removed all traces of character development and plot structure to simply give us a series of "stalk and kill" sequences, which is certainly not a bad thing, but it could have been handled better. Technically, the film is impressive enough; with the cinematography of Australian academy award winner Dean Semler (Dances with Wolves), being one of the real high points, and John Powell's musical score is chillingly effective without being outstanding.

Despite its routine nature and lack of cohesion, D-Tox is a surprisingly entertaining thriller that should keep Sly's ever-dwindling army of fans happy, although there is perhaps not enough of the red stuff to appease hardcore horror buffs. Unfortunately, it seems as though Sly's gun toting action hero days are now long behind him, but I for one will be happy if he can keep producing films such as this. Perhaps the action community's loss could be the horror community's gain? While it is certainly not the best thing we have ever seen from Mr. Stallone, D-Tox is well worth a look. Take a chance on it. You might be pleasantly surprised.
D-Tox is presented in a fairly impressive looking 2.35:1 widescreen transfer and comes with 16x9 enhancement. The image is extremely sharp, with no evident grain and solid black levels. No compression artefacts were noticed.
The 5.1 channel audio mix is a top notch effort from start to finish. The surround channels are effectively used to create a suitable atmosphere, and John Powell's score helps to build up the tension. Dialogue is easy to understand and never gets lost in the mix, even with Sly's occasionally "less then perfect" delivery.
Extra Features
A collection of deleted and extended scenes that runs for a little over 12 minutes, a theatrical trailer, and something called a "Wrap Reel" that is one of the most pointless extra features I have ever seen.
The Verdict
Unfortunately D-Tox seemed to pass though the cinemas without anyone even noticing it. The film itself is relatively enjoyable, and the DVD presentation is fairly impressive, however a few extra supplementary features could have been just the ticket to make this disc a great purchase. If you enjoy slasher films or have a healthy enthusiasm for the output of Sylvester Stallone, then D-Tox might just make for a suitable addition to your collection.
Movie Score
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