Cohen and Tate are two hitmen, the former of which, played by Roy Schneider, a man who normally works alone, but has been partnered up with Adam Baldwin (cast in this after the director saw his performance in Full Metal Jacket). Tate is a headstrong idiot, while Cohen is cool, calm and self-assured. It’s very interesting to see Schneider in a rare role as a bad guy, making him nicely mean and menacing, especially with his dyed blonde hair-do.
The brief premise is that they’ve kidnapped a young boy called Travis (Harley Cross) and have to take him to meet some mobsters who want to question him about a murder he witnessed. As this is a film, a lot more people will die just to make this job come to fruition. Who will be next is anyone’s guess as they’re constantly at each other’s throats, leading to when one says to the other as they’re forced to pull a gun on them, “Just pull this trigger and I get a nice, quiet drive back to Houston.”
As they go on a road trip from A to B, they only refer to each other by Mr ‘surname’, so that could be where Tarantino got his inspiration for the same in Reservoir Dogs, albeit with colours as names.
I didn’t know much about this film prior to watching it, but it started off very well and continued strong throughout. It’s a superb three-hander and a brilliant thriller full of suspense and great twists which I didn’t see coming (some people will do, but for myself, I just let myself get taken along with what a film has to offer), and it shows what an accomplishment it is, and with the talents of those involved, when three people can carry a whole near-90 minutes, even when they’re just exchanging facial gestures.
Overall, this is an incredible piece of work for a feature-length directorial debut.
However, there’s a weird edit where the boy smart-mouths Tate, who replies, “What the hell did you just say?!”, yet Adam Baldwin’s mouth clearly says the f-word instead of ‘hell’. In the next line, “fucker” becomes “sucker” and there’s a bit of “frigging” and “fooling” to follow. Bad Hollywood edit or accidental TV version? Well, there are still a lot of f-words in this version, and seeing another print that’s been around for a while, that has exactly the same outcome, so I guess it’s just a bad Hollywood edit, or perhaps somewhere along the line in the past 30 years, the print became damaged and the audio had to be replaced with this alternate take. Either way, it’s a shame. Soon after this segment, there’s no more such occurrences, hence why I thought it might be a case of the print becoming damaged at that point. I also checked out that portion during the director’s commentary, but he made no mention of it.
The film is presented in the original 1.85:1 widescreen ratio and in 1080p high definition, but it can be a bit hit and miss at times, particularly in the opening scene where it’s very hazy. It settles down for the bulk of the film, but then this is the limitations of 35mm film, and 30 years on, it’s not going to be perfect all the time.
The audio is in DTS HD 2.0 (stereo). Apart from some gunfire, it’s mostly a dialogue-driven piece. Nothing stands out, yet it has no problems.
There aren’t a huge amount of extras, but they’re certainly worth a watch:
- A Look Back at Cohen & Tate (20:43): A documentary with writer/director Eric Red, cinematographer Victor J Kemper, editor Edward Abroms, plus co-stars Kenneth McCabe (Gas Station Attendant), Frank Bates (Highway Patrolman) and Harley Cross (Travis).
There’s talk about the pre-release version which they describe how it was done in a more gory style, but aside from the censors wanting the edit the way it was released, I can see in part why they went for this version in the end, although you can see some of these a little further down in the extras. And as Eric Red says about one death which was done deliberately off-camera, “It’s not about what you show, it’s about what you *don’t* show”, since it leaves certain things to the imagination.
Just one criticism of this segment – why is the aspect ratio of all the movie clips so off? It’s been given an anamorphic squeeze. Given that the interviews are new, I’m not sure what’s happened in putting this together.
- Uncut and Extended Scenes: More footage at the start and end of the film, respectively, for the Farmhouse Shootout (2:11) and Oilfield Shootout (2:48). Both are in 4:3 and I think they weork better with the extra gore.
- Trailer (2:27): A decent trailer that’s not too spoilery, as it jumps around the film so you don’t get when elements of it are happening.
- Gallery: 36 stills, although a few have two pictures in them, so technically, about 40.
- Audio commentary: from director Eric Red.
My review disc was the film and extras on Blu-ray, but if you buy the finished release, there’s also a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Graham Humphreys, and the first pressing includes a collector’s booklet containing new writing on the film by Kim Newman.
The main menu features a short piece of the music set to clips from the film. Bizarrely, there are even less than the bog-standard 12 chapters here, as there’s just NINE, and subtitles are in English.
Cohen and Tate is out now on Blu-ray/DVD Dual-format, and check out the full-size cover by clicking on the packshot.
Running time: 86 mins
Distributor: Arrow Films
Released: December 5th 2016
Picture: 1080p High Definition
Sound: DTS-HD 1.0 Master Audio (Mono)
Widescreen: 1.85:1 (35mm)
Disc Format: BD50
Director: Eric Red
Producers: Antony Rufus-Isaacs and Jeff Young
Screenplay: Eric Red
Music: Bill Conti
Cohen: Roy Scheider
Tate: Adam Baldwin
Travis Knight: Harley Cross
Jeff Knight: Cooper Huckabee
Martha Knight: Suzanne Savoy
FBI George: Marco Perella
FBI Fred: Tom Campitelli
FBI Roy: Andy Gill
Highway Patrolman: Frank Bates
Trooper #1: James Jeter
Trooper #2: Jeff Bennett
Trooper #3: Ron Jackson
Trooper #4: Ted Baader
Gas Station Attendant: Kenneth McCabe
Fat Woman: Ina B Bott
Farmer: Craig Busch
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.