The Army of Crime (2009)
Main Menu Audio
|Year Of Production||2009|
|Running Time||133:10 (Case: 139)|
|RSDL / Flipper||RSDL (75:23)||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||Robert Guédiguian|
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
French Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.85:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.78:1||Miscellaneous|
|Subtitles||English (Burned In)||Smoking||Yes|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
Army of Crime follows the exploits of a French communist resistance network in the later part of the Second World War. The film is loosely based on the exploits of Missak Manouchian's Parisian resistance group and their capture, which led to a notorious "Affiche Rouge" propaganda campaign. Manouchian's network largely comprised immigrants and refugees whose individual resistance efforts were united and coordinated by Manouchian, and to highlight this end the film largely follows the efforts of Manouchian (Simon Abkarian), an Armenian poet, and his wife (Virginie Ledoyen), Marcel Rayman (Robinson Stévenin), a Polish Jew, and Thomas Elek (Grégoire Leprince-Ringuet), a Hungarian Jew, and their respective families.
The film was a critical hit (even competing in the main competition in Cannes in 2009) and commercial flop in its native France, which seems somewhat contrary to what this viewer would have expected given that the action scenes in the film are quite cool but the story side of things a mess. The narrative is slow and aimless, comprising numerous loosely related linear plot threads. None of the threads are bad in isolation, in small bursts several are rather engaging, but together they add up to a whole lot of not much. In fact it is a good hour into the film before they tie together at all and when they do it is along the lines of "hey, you're a resistance fighter too? Let's be loosely organised and occasionally team up." The other thing that can be gleaned from that sentiment is that the film fails to capture a sense of urgency, importance or excitement about any of its plot threads to the point that there are times when you forget there is even meant to be a war on.
Despite dedicating a good deal of screen time to the back stories of the characters, they lack any real depth. In fact, the film is quite a good example of how shallow, two dimensional characters are still shallow and two dimensional regardless of how much plot you give them. The journeyman acting doesn't help matters either. None of the actors are bad, save for a few overplayed scenes, but none of the performances really stand out either.
Army of Crime is not a bad film, it is simply not as good a film as could have been made with the materials at hand. Worth a hire for fans of the genre.
The film is presented in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio, slightly cropped form its theatrical 1.85:1 aspect judging by the trailer included on the disc, and is 16x9 enhanced.
The film looks good. The image is sharp, and clear. There is an excellent level of shadow detail in the image and nice deep blacks. There is only mild grain visible in the image. The colour palette is bold and natural. There is no sign of any compression artefacts or other video nasties, nor any noticeable film artefacts.
The film features forced English subtitles for all French dialogue, in a nice high contrast yellow colour, although a number of lines of German dialogue are (possibly deliberately) untranslated.
The film features a choice of French Dolby Digital 5.1 (448kbps) and 2.0 (224Kbps) tracks. Both are adequate, though neither is particularly noteworthy. The dialogue is clearly audible and well placed in the mix. The audio appears to be well synchronised to the video.
The film features an excellent period-style orchestral score form Alexandre Desplat.
The surround usage is rather lacklustre, with the surrounds only really registering in a handful of actioney scenes. Similarly, the subwoofer only really registers in one or two action scenes, and offers bass to some underwhelming explosions.
|Surround Channel Use|
The French theatrical trailer for the film, which adequately captures all the good bits without any of the filler that passes for story!
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
The UK Region 2 edition is the version of choice as it includes an interview with the Director and a featurette on the film's Cannes participation, neither of which appear on the Region 4 edition.
An underwhelming, though quite watchable, French resistance action/drama.
Video is very good. Audio is passable. Extras are non-existent for just about all intents.
|DVD||Sony Playstation 3, using HDMI output|
|Display||Optoma HD20 Projector. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.|
|Audio Decoder||Pioneer VSX2016AVS. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials.|
|Speakers||150W DTX front speakers, 100W centre and 4 surround/rear speakers, 12 inch PSB Image 6i powered sub|