This review is sponsored by
|Category||Drama||Main Menu Audio & Animation
Featurette - The Making Of... (25:08)
|Running Time||109:15 Minutes|
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Automatic Pan & Scan||Swedish (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo, 224 Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||2.35:1|
|Original Aspect Ratio||2.35:1||
|Subtitles||English||Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
Roger Nyman (Mikael Persbrandt) has just been promoted to a nice position with the Swedish secret police, and uncovers information which leads him to believe that assassin John Gales (Michael Kitchen), alias Ray Lambert, is in the country, and that said assassin's current target is the Prime Minister. When he brings his suspicions to his superiors, however, he is met with a distinct lack of support from everyone bar his best friend, Bo Ekman (Reine Brynolfsson). The rest of the film concerns itself with the question of whether Roger is simply not being believed or whether there are more sinister forces working against him.
One of the more interesting elements of this film is how Roger explains his daily activities to such people as his wife, Nina (Pernilla August), without revealing that he is a member of the secret police. Another interesting factor is the portrayal of political extremism within Sweden, as John meets a few characters, fascists and nationalists being the most heavily represented, who would like to see the peace-oriented Prime Minister removed from power. A small portion of this film consists of stock footage which depicts Olof Palme giving speeches to the United Nations, as well as demonstrations by skinheads and other such unpleasant elements. In contrast to other movies that use stock footage to fill narrative gaps, this technique is surprisingly effective here.
To spend any more time dissecting the plot or its impact upon me would be futile because I only speak enough Swedish to scream "kill everyone", and that's when I'm reading from the lyrics sheet of a particularly funny album I have on compact disc. It is worth noting the presence of Pernilla August, whose recent appearance in a special effects extravaganza by the name of The Phantom Menace should answer any questions as to why Force Video have bothered to transfer this film to DVD. They seem to have missed the boat by about eighteen months, since the Star Wars publicity vehicle will not be in full swing again until the theatrical trailer for whatever the next episode is called hits the Internet. In spite of this, if you have a taste for Swedish cinema, and the Internet Movie Database users who have commented on this film cite this as a good example, then you will find The Last Contract worth checking out.
The image is consistently sharp for the first sixty minutes, looking as if it were sourced properly from an interpositive rather than a recycled Very Hazy System master. Then, at about the sixty-two minute mark, things start to go a tad awry. The shadow detail is very good, slightly less than what I'd expect from a two-year-old film, but certainly not a disappointment in any other respect. There is no low-level noise to spoil any of the shades of black in the image at any time.
The colour saturation of this transfer is somewhat subdued, as you would expect from a film that is mainly set in government offices and the homes of nomadic political extremists, to name the two examples that immediately come to mind. There are no instances of bleeding, misregistration, or cross-colouration.
MPEG artefacts are a real problem for this transfer, with a motion compensation effect manifesting itself as a ghostly outline of irregular pixels where an actor's head used to be at 22:31. Other MPEG artefacts include a severe glitch that manifests as image breakup at 61:30, and numerous examples of pixellated rippling in the picture at numerous points thereafter. Film-to-video artefacts consisted of a great deal of aliasing at 3:28, 6:17, 6:22, 9:05, 10:34, 15:21, 16:46, and 19:15, just to name the moderate examples I found in the first twenty minutes before I decided to give up and focus on the more serious instances. Among the more serious instances of aliasing that I found were shots at 10:38, 21:19, and 29:35. The last of these shots is particularly distracting, as it is a panning shot of a tennis court, which shimmers uncontrollably as the camera moves. Film artefacts were relatively minor, consisting of a handful of white marks on the picture.
There are no subtitles on this disc other than English translations from the Swedish portion of the dialogue, which appear to lose a little in the translation.
This disc is presented in the RSDL format, with the layer change taking place between Chapters 10 and 11, at 62:06. This is right in the middle of a musical cue, so it isn't the most carefully hidden layer change you will find.
The dialogue is clear and easy to understand at all times, as much as anyone who doesn't speak Swedish can expect, anyway. I suspect that people who do speak Swedish will have a slight problem with the occasional fits of shouting that occur in some sequences, but this is only because I found it slightly off-putting. There were no discernible problems with audio sync.
The score music is credited to Geir Bøhren and Bent Åserud, but it sounds more like it is recycled from one of those stuffy old British detective shows than anything else. There is little to distinguish this score music from a million other pieces of score music that appear in European films, or any other film in which an important political figure is assassinated.
The surround channels were not used by this soundtrack, which is a pity except for the fact that the film is almost entirely dialogue-based. The subwoofer was occasionally present to support various explosive sounds, but it was not specifically called upon by the soundtrack, and spent the rest of the film giving out a vague hum.
The video quality looks promising for the first sixty minutes (save for a moderate aliasing problem), but goes badly awry during the last forty minutes.
The audio quality is good for a stereo soundtrack.
The extras are minimal.
|DVD||Toshiba SD-2109, using S-video output|
|Display||Samsung CS-823AMF (80 cm) in 16:9 and 4:3 modes, calibrated using the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.|
|Audio Decoder||Built In (Amplifier)|
|Amplification||Sony STR-DE835, calibrated using the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.|
|Speakers||Yamaha NS-45 Front Speakers, Yamaha NS-90 Rear Speakers, Yamaha NS-C120 Centre Speaker, JBL Digital 10 Active Subwoofer|