Whistleblower, The (Blu-ray) (2010)

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Released 29-Feb-2012

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Thriller Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Kathy Bolkovak: The Real Whistleblower
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2010
Running Time 112:00
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Larysa Kondracki
Studio
Distributor
Entertainment One Starring Rachel Weisz
Vanessa Redgrave
Monica Bellucci
David Strathairn
Nikolaj Lie Kaas
Roxana Condurache
Paula Schramm
Case ?
RPI ? Music Mychael Danna


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1 (640Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

   

What do you do when, as a United Nations peacekeeper, you realise that the people you are supposed to be protecting are being exploited by your colleagues? Not just taken advantage of economically but kidnapped and traffic as sex slaves? Such a dilemma faced former Nebraskan police officer Kathryn Bolkovac the heroine at the centre of The Whistleblower.

In the late 90s Bolkovac (played here by Rachel Weisz) took a high-paying job far out of her comfort zone as a peacekeeper in post-war Bosnia. She found, as many do, that the peace time was just as fraught with danger and murky morality as the war. Bolkovac was not employed by the government or even the military. She was one of the many employees of private contractors, the fastest growing military industry in our time.

On the surface her job was simple. Liaise with the local law enforcement people in order to keep order in the remains of this war-torn country. Immediately upon arriving the complexities become apparent. Her colleagues seem to be fit, healthy and not the least bit jaded by their experiences. The darkness lurks not far beneath. The police officers she is to train are distrusting and seemingly untrustworthy. After seeing a badly beaten woman in a local hospital she is aghast that none of the local police officers will lift a finger to help her as the woman was a Muslim.

This first case is indeed the start of her crusade and one of the seeds of her downfall. Bolkovac scores a major achievement when she gets a court to convict a husband of beating his wife. It leads to a major role in women's affairs under the supervision of Madeline Rees (Vanessa Redgrave). When Bolkovac discovers badly mistreated women at a local bar she assumes, like many do, that they are drug addicted prostitutes only to find that the women are part of a wholesale sex slave ring. A young escapee, Raya, provides an insight into the whole system-that women are being trafficked across the border with the assistance and patronage of the United Nations and peacekeepers.

Bolkovac finds a web of deceit and disinterest from officials in Bosnia including Monica Bellucci and Bolkovac's ultimate supervisor (Benedict Cumberbatch). Her colleagues cannot be trusted. Will she survive with the help of internal affairs officer Peter Ward (David Strathairn) and bring world attention to these terrible goings-on or will the story be buried under the carpet? These questions are played out in the guise of a very harrowing and tense thriller.

Of course, it is no surprise to find that the story did emerge. After all, the movie has been made and as the extras show, Bolkovac is very much alive. The decision to say of the film that it was "inspired by actual events" dims the veracity of the film somewhat. The real-life contractor who deserved to be named and shamed in the film is itself covered up with a fake name and it is hard to know what actually happened and what is invented. In some ways a documentary may have told the story in a more direct fashion.This is one of only a few disappointments in The Whistleblower.

The film was directed by a newcomer Larysa Kondracki who also co-wrote the script with Eilis Kirwan. The film is very earnest however the script could have done with some refinement. At times it is grandstanding and a little obvious and directorily the film is allowed to slip into hyper melodrama when dealing with the sex slaves. That is not to diminish the terror of their situation however as a filmmaker it is important not to lay too many horrors upon the viewer lest they find it unbearable.

There is no doubting the quality of the performance from Rachel Weisz. She is a formidable actress and here is given free rein to express the pain and frustration of being in the middle of a solvable problem but without the power and support to make change. The other performers are mainly supporting and don't get the time to develop their characters to a great degree. The film is a knife edge thriller which will have viewers on the edge of their seats.

Perhaps there is one further disappointment. Rachel Weisz was originally approached to do this role in 2006 however a pregnancy prevented her from taking the part. It was not until three years later that she found that it was still available. Being released in cinemas in 2011 the main purpose of the film, namely to expose the risks of having countries controlled by corporate entities, was diminished by the passage of time. The Whistleblower is by no means perfect. However it is an extremely tense thriller that works in this context even without the social purpose of the film.

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Transfer Quality

Video

The Whistleblower appears to have been shot on 35mm film and projected in the cinema at a 2.35:1 aspect ratio. That ratio has been preserved for the Blu-ray release.

The film depicts a dark and troubling milieu. The colour palette is at times grim and oppressive. There is a grain structure which mirrors the gritty environment of the film. However, there is no doubting the quality of this Blu-ray transfer. The image quality is sharp throughout. The flesh tones are accurate and the level of detail in the faces and clothing is of the highest quality.

The colours are strong and stable. There is no evidence of compression problems. A number of scenes are shot in darkness. The blacks are inky and the shadows deep.

There are subtitles in English for the hard of hearing. The non-English portions of the film are not subtitled where Bolkovac cannot understand what is being said.

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

Audio

The Whistleblower offers a English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack. There is also a French Dolby Digital 5.1 track.

The high quality visual transfer of the film has been matched by the sound transfer which is also excellent. There is ample opportunity for the surround sound to take us right into the action particularly late-night raids on the brothels. The sub-woofer is also engaged from time to time.

Dialogue can be heard clearly at all times.

As a thriller the film benefits from the tense score by experienced cinema composer Mychael Danna. As well as the driving themes matching the tense action on screen, Danna also produces some powerful and moving music to reflect the plight of the slaves.

There are no technical defects with the sound transfer.

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

Extras

There is only one extra included with this Blu-ray release.

Cathy Bolkovac:The Real Whistleblower (5.31)

This short feature describes the effect that the real-life struggle of Kathy Bolkovac had on the cast and crew of this film. Bolkovac herself is interviewed about her struggle. My only complaint is that the feature is quite short. I would have liked some further information about how the United Nations is dealing with this problem of sexual slavery.

R4 vs R1

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

   The film and extras are the same in Region A. Buy local.

Summary

  

The Whistleblower is not the first nor probably the last film to deal with the blight of sexual slavery in the modern world. The series Russian Dolls also attacked the practice and exposed the powerful men behind this horrendous crime. In our own country the sad and moving film The Jammed made it painfully apparent that these are not just problems for the rest of the world to endure.

The Blu-ray is of excellent quality both in sound and vision in terms. The lack of a lengthy extra is a disappointment although it could not be said that region be suffers in comparison to region A. In truth, the film did very poorly at the box office which is, in itself, a terrible shame. Although it has flaws the film is both a tense thriller and a strong and moving reminder of the evil that men do and the need for eternal vigilance.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Trevor Darge (read my bio)
Tuesday, March 27, 2012
Review Equipment
DVDCambridge 650BD (All Regions), using HDMI output
DisplaySony VPL-VW80 Projector on 110" Screen. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationPioneer SC-LX 81 7.1
SpeakersAaron ATS-5 7.1

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