On this day in 2002, the Sylvester Stallone thriller “D-Tox” was released in Denmark, Finland and Greece. The film was plagued with so many problems that it wouldn’t appear in the United States (as “Eye See You”) until November 2002 in a direct-to-DVD release. And that is truly a shame because amongst the rubble of this wreck of a movie lies what may be Sly’s best performance (spoilers ahead).
Stallone plays a detective tracking a serial killer, and when the villain brutally murders his fiancée, he transgresses into full-blown alcoholism. His commander sends him to a rehabilitation facility in the remote regions of Wyoming that treats cops dealing with substance abuse, but things go haywire when the killer follows him there.
The film had so much promise. Jim Gillespie had signed on to direct coming off of “I Know What You Did Last Summer,” and a strong cast was assembled, which included Charles Dutton, Polly Walker, Kris Kristofferson, Stephen Lang, Tom Berenger, Jeffrey Wright, Robert Prosky, Courtney B. Vance and Robert Patrick. Yet once the movie takes us to the rehab facility, it becomes a choppy, disjointed mess. The film cuts from scene to scene in a manner that leaves the audience feeling like they are watching a poorly planned production. And if you can’t figure out who the killer is one hour in to the movie, bless your heart. I have to imagine Universal’s decision to send this movie with a $55 million budget straight to DVD must have been a hard one.
“A film is a very delicate creature. Any adverse publicity or internal shake-up can upset the perception of – and studio confidence in – a feature. For some unknown reason the original producer pulled out and right away the film was considered damaged goods; by the time we ended filming there was trouble brewing on the set because of overages and creative concerns between the director and the studio. The studio let it sit on the shelf for many months and after over a year it was decided to do a re-shoot. We screened it, it tested okay, Ron Howard was involved with overseeing some of the post-production… but the movie had the smell of death about it. Actually, if you looked up, you could see celluloid buzzards circling as we lay there dying on the distributor’s floor.”
Despite all of those difficulties, Stallone nails the part, managing to go from top-notch detective to alcoholic battling his demons in a more than convincing fashion. Okay, maybe it’s not “Rocky,” but if the rest of “D-Tox” had matched his performance, we would talking about one of the best thrillers of the past decade.