Review by Gordon Justesen

Stars: Cole Hauser, Robin Tunney, Dennis Farina, Daniel Baldwin, Tom Sizemore
Director: Paul Abscal
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Surround, Spanish Dolby Surround
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1, Full Screen 1.33:1
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Features: See Review
Length: 85 Minutes
Release Date: January 11, 2005

“Your time here will help you put a face on your problems.”

“My problems already have  faces, doctor.”

Film ***

A note to the paparazzi; wherever you may be lurking, you’ve officially been exposed!

Here’s an intriguing idea for a thriller, and one that manages to expose individuals who mostly deserve it. If you’re like me, and you absolutely cannot stand the so called profession of the “paparazzi”, then you will definitely get a kick at the slick revenge thriller, Paparazzi. The movie takes full aim at the camera-armed celebrity stalkers, taking the sleaze and single-mindedness and making them into villains who mess with the wrong movie star.

Mel Gibson is the film’s producer, and it’s clear that he’s had his own numerous run-ins with the paparazzi ever since he first became a big star. It’s said that the movie was inspired from Gibson, as well as other noted stars, having paparazzi-induced nightmares, an experience that could serve as a cause for a perfect revenge thriller. Who would’ve thought that in the same year Gibson released his personal opus, The Passion of the Christ, another entirely different personal project like this would emerge?

The premise may be a bit exaggerated, it serves as retaliation resulting from years and years of underground photojournalists, or so they call themselves, crossing a crucial line, thus making it difficult for celebrities to have a normal life. Such is the nightmare that Bo Laramie (Cole Hauser) is enduring. He is the new big action star on the rise with the release of his movie, “Adrenaline Force”.

On a side note, my only quibble with anything in this movie is the fact that it’s implied that “Adrenaline Force” is sure to be the next big action movie franchise. Anyone else feel that a movie with that kind of title would ensure nothing more than a direct to video franchise?

Anyway, once Laramie has become a big deal in Hollywood, his personal life ends up being a casualty, not just for him but his wife and son, as well. When he confronts photographer Rex Harper (Tom Sizemore) at his son’s soccer game, and asks him not to take any pictures of his son, the situation turns ugly. Laramie assaults Rex, and is then ordered to anger management therapy.

Rex is an unrelenting force looking to get his greasy hands on anything having to do with Laramie’s life. He even pays two men to deliver the garbage from his house, just to scout about for any personal detail. His intent is very simple; to destroy the actor’s life at all costs.

It isn’t long until Laramie reaches the breaking point, as another run-in with Rex and his associates results a horrific traffic accident, injuring Laramie and landing his wife and son in the hospital. To make it worse, the photographers, who first react to the accident with stunned surprise, don’t hesitate to grab their cameras and take more shots of the injured family.

By this point, Laramie ignites a lethal web of revenge on his newfound predators, which result in some standout moments, which I’ll leave for you to discover. Along the way, Laramie is confronted by a cop named Burton (Dennis Farina), who suspects him of going beyond the means of the law, buy sympathizing with him at the same time.

Paparazzi is a well conceived thriller, with credible performances, particularly from lead Cole Hauser, and a more than well suited concept for a revenge thriller scenario. To my knowledge, the paparazzi heat has thankfully toned down a lot more recently. Maybe we have this movie to thank for that.

BONUS TRIVIA: There are several surprise cameos in the movie, including Vince Vaughn, Chris Rock, Matthew McConaughey, and even Mel Gibson, whose cameo is quite a hoot.

Video ***1/2

Fox delivers once again with a strong looking disc. The anamorphic picture (full screen is also included) is that of a terrifically sharp one, although a few darkly lit shots don’t come off as strong, and serve as the sole flaw. Otherwise, this is a tremendously clear and crisp picture with vibrant colors to spare.

Audio ****

The disc boasts quite a solid 5.1 mix, taking full advantage of this intense thriller. Every possible sound element has been fully rendered and realized to strong effect. Several action scenes, as well as scenes of suspense, work the channels wonderfully, and dialogue is efficient and extremely well delivered.

Features ***

A good, if moderate, list of extras on this release, including a commentary from director Paul Abscal, two deleted scenes with optional commentary, two featurettes-one on the making of the movie, the other a stunt featurette, a theatrical trailer, as well as an Inside Look to the Fox theatrical release Elektra.


Paparazzi is an engaging thriller, and even more enjoyable if you happen to despise the very people it’s exposing, who deserve it. They had it coming, and the movie couldn’t come at a better time!

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