|Category||Thriller||Theatrical Trailer(s)||Yes, 1 - 1.85:1, 16x9 enhanced, Dolby Digital 2.0|
|Year Released||1998||Commentary Tracks||None|
|Running Time||133:53 minutes||Other Extras||Featurette - On Location (16 mins)|
|Region||2,4||Director||F. Gary Gray|
Warner Home Video
|Starring||Samuel L. Jackson
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||No||MPEG||None|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||2.35:1||Dolby Digital||5.1|
|16x9 Enhancement||Yes||Soundtrack Languages||English (Dolby Digital 5.1, 384 Kb/s)
French (Dolby Digital 5.1, 384 Kb/s)
Italian (Dolby Digital 5.1, 384 Kb/s)
|Theatrical Aspect Ratio||2.35:1||
English for the Hearing Impaired
Italian for the Hearing Impaired
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
The broad plot involves Danny Roman (Samuel L. Jackson), a hostage negotiator with the Chicago Police Department and a well respected member of the police force. He is also one of the trustees of the police fidelity fund, which has been embezzled to the tune of $2,000,000. After a particularly good hostage resolution, Danny is framed for the embezzlement by the embezzlers. Knowing that he his innocent, but with the circumstantial evidence mounting against him, Danny believes he has no other option but to confront the Internal Affairs inspector who has led the "investigation" against him. The confrontation ends up in a hostage situation with Danny as the protagonist. With his colleagues ranged against him, knowing that he knows every trick they are likely to use, what ensues is a very enthralling negotiating situation, run by an outsider in Chris Sabian (Kevin Spacey).
In the process of the negotiation, Danny must try and uncover the embezzlers and convince Chris that he is innocent. The rest I will not reveal for want of spoiling the enjoyment.
This really is a quite exceptional film, headed by two great performances from Samuel L. Jackson and Kevin Spacey. The supporting cast is not too bad either, notably including J.T. Walsh in his final film before his untimely death. F. Gary Gray has crafted a very good film from an exceptionally good script in a damn good location in Chicago.
The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, and is 16x9 enhanced.
This is a gloriously sharp transfer, with some wonderful definition and gorgeous clarity. Without doubt this is one of the best, if not the very best, transfer I have seen. Shadow detail is simply terrific: the film is quite a dark film but at no stage does the transfer lose any clarity at all in the darker sections.
Whilst there are no bright colours in the film, the colours nonetheless come up as very vibrant indeed, and this again would be the best that I have seen.
There did not appear to be any MPEG artefacts during the film and video artefacts comprised some very, very minor aliasing that is barely noticeable at all. Surprisingly, film artefacts were virtually completely absent from the film, most unusual for a recent film.
This is a RSDL format disc, with the layer change coming at 90:34. Whilst the change is noticeable, it is hardly disruptive to the film at all - and far, far better than a flipper.
There are three Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtracks on the DVD: the default English, French and Italian. I listened to the default English soundtrack.
The dialogue was clear and easy to understand at all times.
Audio sync did not appear to be a problem at all.
The score was provided by Graeme Revell and it supported the on-screen action very well indeed. Quite a lot of the atmosphere of the film has been derived from the score, but not in an aggressive way at all.
This is a very well balanced soundtrack, with some quite gorgeous detail to it. The overall sound picture is very good and you are well inserted into the action.
The subwoofer got a lot of action during the film as the bass channel was a little overmixed in the transfer - which most probably will not complain about.
Featurette - On Location
This is really a collection of interviews with director F. Gary Gray, production designer Holger Gross, producer David Hoberman and executive producer David Nicksay, but nonetheless quite interesting.
The overall video quality is of reference quality.
The overall audio quality is almost of reference quality.
The extras are reasonable but we do miss on a quite a few compared to Region 1.
© Ian Morris
20th September 1999
|DVD||Pioneer DV-515; S-video output|
|Display||Sony Trinitron Wega 84cm|
|Audio Decoder||Built in|
|Speakers||Energy Speakers: centre EXLC; left and right EXLR; and subwoofer ES-12XL|