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</script></div>{/googleAds}What Doesn't Kill You (2008), inferences applying heretofore to the movie's two leading male characters and not a viewer's residual takeaway, Hollywood perpetrates another in its now decade-long love affair with Beantown's cops and criminals underworld—this generation's vicious cycle incarnating with The Boondock Saints (1999) and Mystic River (2003), gaining velocity, if not worthiness, with The Departed (2006) and Gone Baby Gone (2007). With this a most incognito installment of the ‘Southie' lineup, What Doesn't Kill You (2008), insofar as it's combined nonexistent theatrical release and box-office fates; a fortune no more deserved than The Departed's one of unjustifiable widespread acclaim. Somewhere between the two well-crafted character pieces lies warranted critical and commercial ends.

The compelling thread these five movies share, What Doesn't included, is ‘street cred': Mark Ruffalo and Ethan Hawke's characters fist bumbling along the way, the dialogue, Boston location shooting, authentic accents (â"sho˘o˘r" for â"sure") and acting are all well-enough accounted for in writer-director-supporting actor Brian Goodman's What Doesn't Kill You that the story of life-long friends Brian (Ruffalo) and Paulie (Hawke) could and should stand as a quality redemptive tale on its own merits. A three-day old loaf being pulled from the bread to the movie shelf, these concrete events have gone stale in 2008. The so-called true story is dissipated thanks to suffering from a clinical case of art imitating life imitating art. These same hoods, fictional and otherwise, have been navigating Boston's seedier side, it's urban blight, for so long on screens that familiar ingredients, real or make-believe, are moldy.

What Doesn't Kill YouCovering a time period starting when Brian and Paulie are pubescent errand-boy thugs to young men who grudgingly take $5000 to kidnap the poodle of a ‘client's' former mistress, film covers a twenty-year period: teenagers in the streets, hoods maturating into neighborhood enforcers, murdering drug addicts—targeting and getting targeted—prison sentences, and issues of recidivism versus societal re-assimilation. Goodman, who co-wrote the movie with former New Kid on the Block Donnie Walhberg (brother Mark), the obligatory, though underused, cop presence, leaves his creative footprints all over the snow-covered landscape; not a bad inaugural showing for a working-stiff TV actor that doesn't have a single prior writing or directing credit to his subliminally suggestive surname.

For Ruffalo, passing for Vincent D'Onofrio's (TVs Law & Order: Criminal Intent) kid brother, this is his pageant—a chance to sink his teeth into a character with ambitious arc, succumbing to the claws of drug addiction, growing into an independent small-business criminal operator, alienating his family (angelically-patient wife Stacy (Amanda Peet) ), suffering a drug-fueled breakdown, going to prison for five years, and challenging his fate as it barrels toward the point of no return. (â"It's who I am!").

Hawke, for his part, has put his well-worn trouper's shoe on the other foot, inhabiting the deceased Alonzo, à la Training Day (2001), or better still, carrying on the wayward criminal ways of his own Hank previously spied in Before the Devil Knows Your Dead (2007), as if he went on from that film to develop his newfound blood-thirst following the plot to kill his own parents. His Paulie is without family and is a reprehensible buzz cut, constantly pointing his married friend, a father of two boys, to harm's way, as his own brother did to him in Before the Devil. The takeaway is that even though there isn't much new here under the sun, or the cold and wet and snowy overcast Boston sky, as it were, Ruffalo and Hawke deliver what we've come to expect no matter the weather.


DVD Details:

Screen Formats: 2.35:1

Subtitles: English, English SDH

Language and Sound: English: Dolby True HD; English: Dolby Digital 5.1; English: Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo

Other Features: Color; interactive menus; scene access; audio commentary; deleted and alternate scenes; making-of featurette.


* Commentary
o Feature-length commentary track with director Brian Goodman and writer Donnie Wahlberg.
* Featurettes
o Makes You Stronger: The Making of 'What Doesn't Kill You' (18:55)
* Deleted Scenes - Deleted and Alternate Scenes (14:18)
* Previews - no theatrical trailer

Number of Discs: 1 with Keepcase Packaging