In a career spanning thirty-five years, Mike Hodges directed only nine feature films. Despite his modest output, many admire his unique style. Two of his films, 1971’s Get Carter and 2003’s Croupier are considered among the best crime films in British history. Released in 2004, Hodges’ final film I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead has the sullen characters and dark noir feel that mark Hodges’ work.

Former gangster and mysterious recluse Will Graham (Clive Owen), has lived in a ramshackle, book-lined caravan way outside of London for three years. Once feared by many, Will has fled the city for reasons never made clear, though some kind of “mental breakdown” is mentioned. Even so, it’s clear that Will was, and still is, feared by many.

Will’s younger brother Davey (Jonathan Rhys-Meyers) is a smalltime drug dealer, working his way through parties, making contacts and finishing the sale. At one of these parties, Davey meets up with a woman named Stella (Daisy Beaumont) to make a sale. When leaving, Davy doesn’t realize he’s being followed. When he arrives home, a group of men attack him, and drag him off to a dark garage. There, while they hold him down, as a man named Broad (Malcolm McDowell) brutally sexually assault Davey. Davey returns home, where he is found dead in the bathtub, by his friend Mickser (Jamie Foreman), having committed suicide.

After learning of Davey’s fate, Will is determined to get revenge. When Will returns to London, it’s clear he hasn’t been forgotten. Many still fear him, others worry he’s comeback to reclaim his territory. The gang Will ran want him back. He has no interest in any of it. He’s not even interested in the girlfriend he left behind (Charlotte Rampling). He only wants to get revenge for Davey’s death on his own terms.

A solid thriller, I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead is appropriately dark and well-paced. Both Clive Owen and Jonathan Rhys-Meyers are well cast. Owen does tough and sullen with the best of them. A young Jonathan Rhys-Meyers is the perfect cocky, but careless want to be somebody. Malcolm McDowell has made a career of playing weird, often demented characters. The only misfire is the casting of Charlotte Rampling as Helen, Will’s older ex-girlfriend. This is no fault of Rampling, but Helen doesn’t have much to do and and seems unnecessary. Nonetheless strong performances and a realistic sense of menace makes this film recommended to fans of crime thrillers.

Presented in the 1.78:1 aspect ratio, this 1080p transfer represents a significant upgrade from the previous DVD release I owned. The cinematography of Garfath shines throughout. Detail is surprisingly strong. The source is clean and offers adequate depth. Contrast is strong, particularly during dark scenes (Much of the film is at night). Imprint has delivered a fine transfer of Mike Hodges final film.

Audio options are provided in English language 24-bit DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio and a 24-bit LPCM 2.0 Stereo with optional English SDH subtitles. The 5.1 mix shows off aggressive moments, particularly gunshots, well. Bass is top notch. The score by Simon Fisher-Turner offers welcome punch to the proceedings. Dialogue is clean, clear and concise throughout.

The following extras are included:

  • Audio Commentary by director Mike Hodges and writer Trevor Preston: the two men offer a thorough analysis of the production. The film was shot in just twenty-eight days!
  • Mike Hodges and I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead (HD, 27:01) offers a look behind-the-scenes.
  • Deleted Scene 1 (commentary by Mike Hodges and Trevor Preston) (HD, 2:05)
  • Deleted Scene 2 (HD, 0:31)
  • Theatrical Trailer (HD, 2:18)