Burke & Hare brings director John Landis back to feature films, along with a capable cast of actors and a premise based on a true story. All of the elements are in place, and yet Burke & Hare somehow manages nothing more than mediocrity. It is a dark comedy which is not quite dark enough and not nearly as humorous as it attempts to be. The biggest problem, however, seems to be the fact that each character is unsavory enough to appear entirely unsympathetic. There is no gravity to any of the film’s twists and turns when so little matters, and each moment therefore depends on entertainment value alone.
The film follows in the exploits of two entrepreneurs during a time of medical exploration. William Burke (Simon Pegg) and William Hare (Andy Serkis) have tried every harebrain scheme to get rich when they finally hit the jackpot. They discover that there is a great deal of money to be made in the selling of corpses to the two competing doctors (Tim Curry and Tom Wilkinson) at the local medical colleges (Tim Curry and Tom Wilkinson). This competition in medical advancements provides an opportunity for Burke and Hare, and situation provides them their first corpses.
When the greedy pair finds that dead people are a way to make money, they are eager to find more corpses. After a poor attempt at corpse robbing, they decide it would be easier just to provide the corpses themselves by killing. This makes for a fresh corpse and makes them wealthy. William is even able to woo an equally entrepreneurial young woman (Isla Fisher), but only so long as the money continues to come in. The DVD includes outtakes and deleted scenes, as well as a behind-the-scenes featurette and interviews with the key players.
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