Action thrillers are a bit in short supply these days, so it’s always kind of nice to see one slip in. We’ve had some great examples of them in the past, and one of the latest is eager to join the ranks of the greats. Our friends out at Magnet sent over a copy of “Grand Piano” for review, and this is one that hits all the right notes. It won’t be out until May 20, but clear your calendar; this one’s well worth it.
“Grand Piano” introduces us to Tom Selznick, master pianist. He’s got a real gift for the art, and the only thing that gets in the way is his profound stage fright. He’s just managed to summon up the nerve to play again when he finds something downright disturbing when he sits down at his piano on a stage in Chicago. Someone has gotten to his musical score and added a small note: “Play one wrong note and you die.” There’s a sniper in the crowd, and even the smallest failure will cost Selznick everything. As he plays, the notes get more ominous, detailing the exact position in which he’s in. Now, he must get through what will be the most difficult performance he’s ever seen…and try to spot a hidden sniper before it’s too late.
Classical music fans, you’re definitely going to want in on this one. The menu alone rides this genre like no tomorrow, and considering it actually becomes a plot device before too much longer has passed, it’s really rather impressive all things considered. Even better, Elijah Wood is Tom Selznick, and he does an absolutely spectacular job of playing this fussy classical pianist who’s got to take on something much, much bigger than he’s ever done before. John Cusack, meanwhile, does a shockingly good job playing the heavy in this piece, and watching Wood and Cusack go back and forth in such a setting is a sheer delight.
The movie has an excellent buildup; we all know what’s coming, except the cast who remains blissfully oblivious throughout most of the first third of the movie. Oh, but we know what’s coming, and do we ever. It’s a real nail-biter, watching the clearly nervous Selznick work his way through some amazing classical fare, knowing all the time there’s a target on his head. It’s incredibly harrowing; it’s almost like the piano version of “Misery”, and that’s really not an insult to this. It may be just a smidge on the derivative side, but it’s an amazing derivative. This is King’s petroleum turned into a new kind of gasoline. King’s version was raw power, but this actually ratchets up the tension significantly. It’s almost like watching a man juggling knives with a gun to his head. I’m positively staggered by this.
Special features include your choice of English or Spanish subtitles, a making-of featurette, a set of interviews, a featurette on the film’s soundtrack, one on the coaches involved in the film, one on “Following Eugenio,” one on the stunts involved and one on the visual effects. There’s an AXS TV look at “Grand Piano,” a set of BD-Live features for connected players, and trailers for “Nymphomaniac: Volume 1,” “Stage Fright,” “The Protector,” and a promotional clip for Chideo as well as one for AXS TV Live.
“Grand Piano” is an unbelievable work of successful thriller at its finest. Refined to within an inch of its life, it’s spectacular stuff, an unbelievable combination of locked-room murder mystery and hostage crisis all at once. It will blow your mind, at the very least, it blew mine.