Rendition (2007)

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Released 18-Jun-2008

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Thriller Audio Commentary-Director Gavin Hood
Featurette-Outlawed documentary
Featurette-Making Of-Intersections
Deleted Scenes
Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2007
Running Time 117:18
RSDL / Flipper RSDL Cast & Crew
Start Up ?
Region Coding 4 Directed By Gavin Hood
Studio
Distributor

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Omar Metwally
Reese Witherspoon
Aramis Knight
Rosie Malek-Yonan
Jake Gyllenhaal
Moa Khouas
Zineb Oukach
Case ?
RPI ? Music Paul Hepker
Mark Kilian


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Unknown English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (128Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

Rendition is a modern political drama that attempts to examine some of the moral, legal and social repercussions of the war on terror. Rendition is a term that refers to the extraordinary rendition process that governments are using to apprehend and transfer a person without judicial direction, from one country to another.

The film essentially tells a few stories in one, with all being intertwined.

- The extraordinary rendition of Anwar El-Ibrahimi (Omar Metwally) and his detainment in Egypt.

- Isabella Fields El-Ibrahimi (Reese Witherspoon) coping with her husband's disappearance, her realisation the US government is responsible and her fight to get him back.

- A CIA analyst's realisation (Jake Gyllenhaal) that torture is not a reliable (or moral) way to get information.

- A young couple and forbidden love in Egypt.

There's a lot to like about this movie. Firstly, the cast is superb. There are actors not mentioned above including the likes of Peter Sarsgaard, Alan Arkin, Meryl Streep and JK Simmons. Secondly, a lot of the film was shot on location and that adds a lot to the drama and intrigue of the various storylines.

Unfortunately the complexity of the issues involved and the statements that the film are trying to make are watered down and presented in an overly simplistic way. That's the result of the screenplay, which ultimately disappoints the film. An example is the dawning moral outrage and supposed confliction that Gyllenhaal is apparently feeling. Other than a scene with him half drunk in a bar in Egypt, there is little to no development of a key point that is fundamental to the film. Actors can only rise as high as the material will allow, and unfortunately they are let down here. To go into why the film disappoints would give away too much of the plot and would best be left to viewers to see for themselves (the recent lacklustre Lions for Lambs is another example of potential that ultimately disappoints.)

Sadly there are too few Hollywood movies that are tackling relevant, political issues in the 21st century. There are too few film makers with the guts to tackle and too few studios willing to financially back potentially unpatriotic ventures. Unfortunately, the box office disappointment that this film became justifies their caution, so we won't be seeing too many more in the near future. Rendition is the kind of film we need, but doesn't quite reach the heights it bravely aims for.

Recommended for the message it attempts to send and the great performances of some of Hollywood's best talent.

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Transfer Quality

Video

This PAL disc is presented at 2.35:1 and is 16x9 enhanced.

Beautifully shot using amazing locations in Northern Africa and the US it is hard to fault this transfer. The picture is clear and enjoyable to watch.

Colours are wonderfully vivid - each of the different storylines is shot differently with the result almost being like 3 separate films within the one movie. The rendition story is dark and gritty with a depressing tone, the US search for the truth is cold (like Washington DC in winter) with steely blues and greys and the Egyptian love story has earthy hues and natural tones capturing the third world feel of the story.

Skin tones look natural.

Black levels are good, and shadows are decent too.

There are no MPEG artefact issues nor are there any film artefact problems.

This is the type of transfer that studios should deliver more often.

An area of irritation are the subtitles, most of the Egyptian storyline is told this way and the titles were always preceded by the speakers name with Arabic in brackets or 'Dog barking', 'Whispering in Arabic' etc. They are more akin to subtitles for the hearing impaired (of which there is a track on this disc) so I have a suspicion instead of creating a new appropriate track they simply used the descriptive track for those relevant scenes.

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

Audio

The 5.1 Dolby Digital track (384 kb/s) sounds very impressive, has a great range and adds a lot to the viewing experience.

The dialogue comes through clearly and is never drowned out.

Surround usage is not used that often, but when it does it really makes the most of all directional noise.

The subwoofer gets a decent workout, really kicking into gear in a few key sequences.

The soundtrack for the film was well suited to the different parts of the story generally it was subtle but really well done. The music is well balanced and certainly adds to the mood of the film.

There is also a Dolby Digital 2.0 track for the commentary.

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

Extras

Outlawed: Extraordinary Rendition, Torture and Disappearances in the 'War on Terror' (27:39)

Independent documentary regarding extraordinary rendition and some people it has affected. There is a brief introduction by director Gavin Hood who saw the documentary while in the pre-production stage of shooting Rendition.

Intersections: The Making of Rendition (30:06)

Interesting look at the shooting of the film. You get to see some of the amazing locations the film was shot in.

Deleted/Alternate Scenes

5 scenes including an alternate ending with optional commentary by director Gavin Hood. Nothing special, but interesting to see nevertheless.

Feature Commentary with Director Gavin Hood

Hood obviously is very passionate about the film and the issues it tries to address. It's quite an informative commentary.

Theatrical Trailer (2:19)

Pretty standard fare.

R4 vs R1

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

The R1 edition appears to be the same, so let's call it a tie.

Summary

The film is not as good as it could have been, but it's worth seeing.

The video is great.

The audio is great.

The special features are pretty decent too.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ben Smith (boku no bio)
Wednesday, July 02, 2008
Review Equipment
DVDMarantz DV4300, using Component output
DisplaySony VPL HS10 projector on 100 inch 16x9 screen + Palsonic 76WSHD. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderSony STR-DE685. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.
AmplificationPioneer
SpeakersDB Dynamics VEGA series floor standers + centre, DB bipole rears, 10" 100W DB Dynamics sub

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