“Just when you think you’ve got it all figured out, suddenly everything changes.” Bull Pullman mutters this line in voice over towards the end of the film and it speaks volumes about the film you’ve just seen. As a long time Wim Wenders fan this was the first film of his I was able to see in the theaters on its original release. I loved it then when I was a young, impressionable teenager, and as a bitter, cynical thirty-something, I still thoroughly enjoy it.
The End Of Violence, I suppose, can be described as many things, but at its heart, it is the story of two men who are unhappy with their station in life and seek to make a change for the better.
First we have Mike Max (Pullman) who plays a big time Hollywood producer of action movies (think Michael Bay). His life and perception of that life are upended when he is kidnapped by two killers who question whether they should kill him or not. Before you know it the two killers are dead and Mike is hiding out with a Hispanic family of gardeners while he tries to figure out exactly who is after him. Meanwhile his distant wife, Paige (Andie MacDowell) starts taking over his company.
Next up we have Ray Bering (Gabriel Byrne) a scientist working for the government on a project that will allow the authorities to spy on people 24 hours a day with thousands of hidden cameras. This movie was released in 1997, so it’s interesting to think that at the time this was a bit of science fiction, while today it’s pretty much our reality. Think of this guy as an early inspiration for Edward Snowden.
Ray is watching the footage of Mike’s kidnapping when his feed is interrupted. As he tries to uncover the truth of what actually happened that night, he begins to grow more and more paranoid as he feels his superiors are watching his every move. On top of this, his bosses send him a new cleaning lady to take care of his office where is watching the feed from all the camera’s all over LA. This cleaning lady is Hispanic and speaks very little english. It is interesting to see Ray grow closer to her while Mike grows closer to the gardeners he is living with and working for.
The film winds this way and that as the mystery slowly unfolds. It is a slow almost dream like film. This dream like feel is greatly helped by he fantastic soundtrack produced by Ry Cooder. Using the music of DJ Shadow, Whiskeytown, and Tom Waits, among others, mixed with his own original score really locks in the dreamlike quality of the film.
The movie has a great cast. Pullman and Byrne are fantastic. There are even some cult film character actors that show up in small rolls throughout like Udo Kier and Henry Silva, and even director Samuel Fuller makes an appearance as Ray’s father.
This isn’t a movie everyone is going to like. It’s not a very straightforward film and it leaves you asking more questions than it answers. It’s very much a think piece film like most of Wender’s films are, and if you are in to that time of thing, then you’re sure to enjoy this one. If you like everything spelled out this film will probably piss you off a little.
The film is presented in 2.35:1 and DTS Stereo. This is a great looking version of this film. It’s very well shot and the blu-ray remaster is superb.
You get the trailer.
As a huge Wender’s fan I really enjoyed this film. I wouldn’t say it is one of his best, but it’s a solid movie. For a Wender’s novice I would certainly start with Wings Of Desire, Paris, Texas or Until The End Of The World. If you like those and want to keep watching, you’ll eventually get around to this one and probably enjoy it as well.
Olive Films presents The End Of Violence. Written by: Nicholas Klein. Story by Wim Wenders and Nicholas Klein. Directed by: Wim Wenders. Starring: Bill Pullman, Gabriel Byrne, Andie MacDowell, K. Todd Freeman and Loren Dean. Running time: 122 min. Rating: R. Released on DVD: March 24, 2015.