Greenmail (2001)

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Released 5-Dec-2003

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Thriller Main Menu Audio & Animation
Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2001
Running Time 92:02
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Jonathan Heap
Studio
Distributor

Imagine Entertainment
Starring Stephen Baldwin
Tom Skerritt
Kelly Rowan
D.B. Sweeney
Case Click
RPI ? Music Igor Khoroshev


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

"A serial bomber is loose in the city.
Time is running out."

    For some causes, some are willing to give their all. Some are willing to give their lives. Others are even willing to kill to justify and defend their cause. This is the story of one man who is willing to kill for what he believes in, and another trying to stop him.

    Scott Anderson is a man committed to the environment and its defence. Disheartened by the destruction of the earth by man and his continual rape of its natural recourses, Scott has formed RAM, a radical action movement in Seattle dedicated to the defence of the environment. He publicly stands for defensive action against those who would destroy the earth and is prominent in the media doing many interviews about his cause and passion for the environment. But there are some who think that he hasn't gone far enough.

    Tracked for years by Federal Agent Tom Bradshaw (Tom Skerritt) for a bombing gone wrong many years ago, Scott finds himself in a dilemma when his girlfriend is shot during a bungled raid on a company polluting the local waterways. She is shot while fleeing with Scott and another activist from a complex which has just been blown up by persons unknown. After the death of his girlfriend, Scott is visited by Federal Agent Katie Pryor (Kelly Rowan) who is investigating the bombing deaths of people connected to the polluting plant case. Her partner Tom Bradshaw has more of a score to settle and seeks to put Scott behind bars for good. However, with more bombings taking place while Scott is in custody, this puts him out of the running as prime suspect and now he has to work with Agent Pryor and his adversary Bradshaw to bring an end to the increasingly complex bombings before more people are killed.

    Produced for the ever-popular direct-to-video market, this action thriller does a better job than some in portraying an entertaining story, yet is let down by some ordinary character development. The problem is how to develop an interesting story and a set of characters that one would be interested in following, and do it in under 2 hours. Here the solution is to jettison any major character development, replace it with one dimensional personalities, inject the usual sexual tension, blow a lot of stuff up and call it a film. Were this to have been a major motion picture, we would have needed much more character development. The two major character deficiencies are most notable in Scott (Stephen Baldwin) and the renegade activist. Scott is meant to be passionate about the environment, yet I really didn't get that impression from the film and for me to really connect with the Scott character I needed to identify with his passion and dedication. Showing us some newspaper clippings about his time as an advocate for nature and having him spout some appropriate pro-environment slogans didn't do it for me. I also had the same problem (even more so) with the renegade activist character who is completely willing to die and kill in defence of Mother Nature, yet we get even less of a glimpse at this character's motivation or why he feels driven to such extremes. All this leads to a flat and perfunctory movie viewing experience that I didn't find overly memorable.

    Okay, am I being too hard on this film? After all, it is just a straight to video movie anyway, so what's the fuss? As I stated at the beginning, I thought this did a better job than some (in the direct-to-video stakes, anyway) with some very ordinary films in the same category available. A prime example would have to be a film I reviewed called Critical Mass which featured characters so one dimensional and cardboard that at times I swore that I could see the corrugation. This film isn't in that league, and within the context of direct-to-video much worse has been produced. The performances by Stephen Baldwin and Tom Skerritt are reasonable, although we've seen both in much better films. Still, they lend a slight air of credibility to the film. It's just a shame that there isn't more here. I know, I know, it's straight to video so what should I expect? I just wish this film had offered more.

    A footnote: There seems to be some confusion as to the name of the main character in this film as played by Stephen Baldwin. The back of the DVD cover has him being Alex while the Region 1 cover has him as Alexander Scott. IMBD has him as Scott Anderson and this is what he is called during the film. It is possible that the character's name changed during production and this may be the cause of the confusion.

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Transfer Quality

Video

   We have an ordinary transfer to DVD here that suffers from some common and predictable flaws.

    Due to its direct to video intentions, we have a full frame transfer here. I wasn't able to determine whether this film had been filmed with any other aspect ratio in mind, but from watching the film, I didn't feel that I was missing out on any information at the sides and it is entirely possible that this film was filmed open matte or full frame rather than panned and scanned from a widescreen print. Needless to say, there is no 16x9 enhancement anywhere on this disc.

    Image sharpness during this feature is reasonable with, for the most part, a quite watchable picture throughout. There were a couple of instances where the image could have been a bit clearer, and an examples of these instances can be seen at 15:40 and 62:42. There seemed to be a lack of shadow detail during some of the early scenes shot at night. This may have been intended or a limitation of the camera and film, but it doesn't present too much of a drama. Low level noise didn't appear to be a problem here.

    Colour use during the film is quite natural and its presentation is fairly good. Sometimes I got the impression that the colours were slightly muted, but this is probably due to the film used and not an artefact or deficiency per se.

    There are a couple of instances where MPEG compression artefacts are visible, with pixelization visible at 20:40, 39:53 and 65:09. This never got to the point of macroblocking, but is visible by the attentive eye. Aliasing is visible from time to time with an example at 20:40. Moire is visible at 38:06. If there was anything that could survive a bombing, it would be edge enhancement. Hell, in the event of all-out nuclear war, the only things left would be cockroaches and edge enhancement and it rears its head at 17:18, 38:18, 47:56 and 87:21, way too much for my liking. There is a bag of grain visible during the feature with prime examples at 11:00 and 44:36. There are quite a few film artefacts to be seen during the program which mostly consist of black specks and blotches. A standout example of these can be seen at 28:29.

    There are no subtitle options on this disc.

    This disc is single layered and therefore a layer change is not an issue.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    Despite this being a straight to video release, I found the audio mix available on this disc to be quite engaging.

    The packaging of this disc states that there are 2 audio options available, these being English Dolby Digital 2.0 and 5.1 tracks. This is incorrect and instead there is only the 5.1 mix available. No loss as all DVD players can output a mixed stereo signal for those without the appropriate equipment to handle Dolby Digital 5.1.

    The dialogue quality on this disc is quite good with the spoken word easily understood throughout the picture.

    For the most part dialogue sync is reasonable, but I did find it to be just a bit out at 11:04 and 13:10. These are isolated examples and not noticeable to a distracting extent.

    Music for this film comes from relative film scoring newcomer Igor Khoroshev or just plain Igor as he's credited here. Even though Igor is fairly new at the film score game, I found his score for this film to be quite good with some memorable themes and interesting passages which at times reminded me of the Strange Days soundtrack by Graeme Revell. This is a much better soundtrack than would normally be afforded such a release and I look forward to hearing more of this composer's work.

    Continuing with the surprises here is the amount of surround use. No derived 2.0 into 5.1 mix here, instead all 6 channels are used to maximum effect. The rears are used a fair bit during this feature with examples of their use at 10:24, 18:50 and 32:45.

    The same can be said of the LFE channel with the many explosions working my subwoofer fairly well, such as at 3:19, 10:03 and 18:49. For the rest of the film, the LFE track drove the subwoofer in service of the main channels.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    We have a bare bones disc here with only a theatrical trailer on offer.

Menu

    After the copyright warnings and distributor's logos, we are taken to the disc's Main Menu which offers us the following:     The Main Menu features animation and Dolby Digital 2.0 surround encoded audio.

Theatrical Trailer - 1:48

    Here is the typical big hype trailer complete with rousing music and titles that fall from the screen; 'Night Becomes Day...Friends Become Enemies...Polluters Become Prey...' and so on. The trailer is presented full frame with Dolby Digital 2.0 surround encoded audio.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    This title was released in Region 1 in late 2002. In terms of content, we have mostly the same package afforded our U.S. cousins, but we do get a bit that they don't.

    The Region 4 disc misses out on:

    The Region 1 disc misses out on:     Although we miss out on a subtitle option, the inclusion of a 5.1 mix is more than enough for me to recommend the Region 4 disc over the Region 1 version. The only other difference between the discs (other than the NTSC / PAL transfers) is the fact that the Region 1 disc has 24 Chapters while the local disc has 16. As a wise man once said, 'Any difference that makes no difference is no difference', therefore, go Region 4.

Summary

    A fairly pedestrian thriller about a mad bomber and our gallant hero's attempts to track him down, this film could have delivered more but is let down by some poor character development and thin storyline. Still, for a film destined to go straight to video, it isn't all that bad. If this storyline looks interesting, then I'd recommend that you have a look at the similarly themed film Blown Away starring Jeff Bridges and Tommy Lee Jones which features a more developed story and some really big explosions (if that's your thing).

    The video is reasonable with a full frame transfer that is watchable although it suffers from some typical transfer flaws.

    The audio is surprisingly good with much activity in the rears as well as the subwoofer. The music is also better than one might expect.

    The extras are almost nil with only a theatrical trailer on offer.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Sean Bradford (There is no bio.)
Thursday, January 30, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDPanasonic DVD RA-61, using S-Video output
DisplayBeko TRW 325 / 32 SFT 10 76cm (32") 16x9. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD player, Dolby Digital, dts and DVD-Audio.
AmplificationYamaha RX-V2090
SpeakersVAF DC-X fronts; VAF DC-6 center; VAF DC-2 rears; LFE-07subwoofer (80W X 2)

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