The Badge (2002)

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Released 16-Apr-2004

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Thriller Main Menu Audio
Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2002
Running Time 99:12
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Robby Henson
Studio
Distributor

Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring Billy Bob Thornton
Patricia Arquette
William Devane
Sela Ward
Julie Hagerty
Marcus Lyle Brown
Ray McKinnon
Tom Bower
Audrey Marie Anderson
John McConnell
J.C. Sealy
Ron Flagge
Huey Alexander
Case ?
RPI $19.95 Music David Bergeaud


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Every now and again one comes across a film that, without the presence of a certain actor, would almost certainly fall apart. I'm tempted to assign this unflattering description to The Badge, a relatively lifeless police procedural saved by a performance by an actor whose talent far exceeds the material he's made to work with. I speak of course, of Billy Bob Thornton, in my opinion one of the most interesting and original film actors working today. Interestingly, this made for television movie was intended at some point to be a follow up to the far superior Monster's Ball, which co-starred Thornton with Heath Ledger (who incidentally, I neglected to mention made his film debut in Blackrock, the subject of my last review) and Halle Berry in her Oscar winning role. That film was one of the best of its year - this is not. However, those looking for another chance to see Billy Bob Thorton doing what he does best, or looking for a police procedural with something a little different to offer, drenched in the colours and peculiarities of the unfailingly interesting state of Louisiana in the Deep South, need look no further.

    The plot is scarily familiar for anyone who has seen more than about three murder mysteries. A body is discovered in a roadside ditch and Thornton's character, the town sheriff, is required to investigate. All is not what it originally seems however, and without divulging too much information, the police and government lose all interest in pursuing the investigation (I will say deep running prejudices are at work). That is until a friend of the victim, played solidly by Patricia Arquette, whom I last saw in the creepy religious thriller Stigmata, arrives from New Orleans looking for answers. Thornton's character, who has an estranged wife and daughter (woefully underwritten - a problem for most of the individually interesting but ultimately unnecessary Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil-like cast) forms something of a friendship with this beautiful woman from the city, and agrees to help her find her friend's killer. Bigger players are involved however, and soon political bigwigs are trying desperately to keep everything under wraps.

    The Badge is entertaining, and at just over an hour and a half doesn't outstay its welcome. However, the number of characters, which suggests a lengthier and more layered film, weighs it down. The cast do a decent job with material that whilst on the surface seems to put a different spin on a tired storyline, falls too easily into hackneyed setups and resolutions, particularly in the closing stages. The ending wants to be more insightful into the prejudices of the Deep South than it is, and we never really care about any of the characters - many seem created simply for the audience to gawk at, devoid of any context. The social and political commentary seems forced for much of the time and there seems to me to be far too many story threads. Fans of Billy Bob Thornton needn't hesitate, others, I suggest should look elsewhere.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    My rule of thumb is not to have too many expectations about the transfers of made for TV movies, however what we have been provided with is generally excellent. Only released in 2002, the movie was shot in widescreen and we have been presented with a nice 16x9 enhanced 1.78:1 transfer, which I imagine, without knowing for certain, would be very close to the original aspect ratio.

    There are good levels of sharpness, although on the whole, perhaps intentionally (or for budgetary reasons) the picture is just a tad soft for my liking. It is consistently so however so there is no significant distraction. Blacks were a little washed out, some looked a little dark grey but nothing too serious. Shadow detail was unproblematic.

    The film is cast in the smoky blues and grey greens of Louisiana's marshy, slightly exotic north and as such, the colour palette is not as vivid as many films, and may seem a little muted to some. Skin tones were well rendered however, and again, consistency of look was well achieved.

    MPEG artefacts weren't a noticeable problem, however at 46:05 a spattering of interference mars the screen momentarily. Whilst annoying, thankfully this only occurs once. There were a few incidents of aliasing, involving a striped robe at 15:26 and a car grille at 51:18, but nothing too objectionable.

    Thankfully my pet hate, film artefacts, are, as I would expect for a film of recent vintage (regardless of its made for TV status) kept to a minimum. They do occur, but certainly didn't encroach on my enjoyment of the movie.

    No subtitles are provided.

    This is a surprisingly good looking transfer, presented at the correct aspect ratio and with a clean print.

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

Audio

    We get a solitary English Dolby Digital 5.1 surround mix which is of good quality. The surround speakers are used mostly for the musical soundtrack and for providing some outdoors ambience during scenes in the marshes. Neither aggressive or totally immersive, this nonetheless is a decent effort. The subwoofer gets an occasional beat from some of the songs and is used sparingly.

    The dialogue is always clear and easy to understand at all times. No dropouts or problems with audio sync were detected at any stage during the transfer.

    The soundtrack is almost entirely made up of songs rather than a composed score, and we get a great mix of music which lends a nice regional, sometimes exotic feel to the film.

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

Extras

    The menu is presented at an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced and is accompanied with (surprisingly) 5.1 sound.

Trailer

    A solitary trailer presented at 1.33:1, not 16x9 enhanced, with 2.0 audio. This trailer has a terrible voiceover and running at 2:23 is far too long and gives too much away plotwise.

R4 vs R1

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

    The Region 1 title is identical except for the provision of an additional trailer for Monster's Ball. So, for the usual NTSC/PAL differences and cost Region 4 is a winner.

Summary

    The Badge is a somewhat entertaining though unconvincing film that fails to breathe any life into a familiar story, in spite of some intriguing but underdeveloped ideas. Billy Bob Thornton does some good work however.

    The video quality is excellent with very few problems.

    The audio is clean and clear but too unadventurous to receive a higher rating.

    The extras are practically non-existent.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Scott Murray (Dont read my bio - it's terrible.)
Wednesday, April 28, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDYamaha DVR-S100, using Component output
DisplaySony 76cm Widescreen Trinitron TV. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD Player, Dolby Digital and DTS. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.
AmplificationYamaha DVR-S100 (built in)
SpeakersYamaha NX-S100S 5 speakers, Yamaha SW-S100 160W subwoofer

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