In the Line of Fire: Collector's Edition (1993)

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Released 11-Dec-2001

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Thriller Menu Audio
Teaser Trailer
Trailer-Random Hearts; A Few Good Men
TV Spots
Featurette-Catching The Counterfeiters
Featurette-How'd They Do That?
Featurette-The Ultimate Sacrifice
Deleted Scenes-5
Featurette-Showtime Featurette:Behind The Scenes With The Secret Srvice
Biographies-Cast & Crew
Audio Commentary-Wolfgang Petersen (Director)
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1993
Running Time 123:25
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (72:30) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Wolfgang Petersen
Studio
Distributor

Sony Pictures Home Entertain
Starring Clint Eastwood
John Malkovich
Rene Russo
Case Soft Brackley-Transp
RPI $36.95 Music Ennio Morricone


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/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
French
German
Dutch
Arabic
Bulgarian
Czech
Danish
Finnish
Greek
Hebrew
Hindi
Hungarian
Icelandic
Norwegian
Polish
Swedish
Turkish
French Audio Commentary
German Audio Commentary
Dutch Audio Commentary
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    In The Line Of Fire was originally reviewed here back in early 1999, when it was released as a bare bones disc. This new release from Columbia Tristar sees the Collector's Edition label added to the packaging and a substantial set of extras included as a result.

    Clint Eastwood stars in this Wolfgang Petersen (Das Boot, Air Force One) thriller as Secret Service Agent Frank Horrigan. Horrigan is still in active service and carries the dubious honour of being on duty the day JFK was assassinated. He has been haunted by his failure to perform his duty and protect the President since that fateful day in Dallas and his life has suffered since. Roll forward to 1993 when Frank receives a phone call from a would-be assassin (John Malkovich) who is threatening to assassinate the current President, and all of Horrigan's nightmares are about to come true again. Horrigan believes the threat to be genuine and requests to again be assigned to protective detail for the President despite the misgivings of his seniors.

    So begins a cat and mouse chase where the brilliant but unstable Mitch Leary (Malkovich in a stunning portrayal of a psychotic yet ice-cool assassin) taunts Horrigan and provides a tantalising trail of clues for him to follow. Horrigan, with his partner (Dylan McDermott), and field chief Lilly Raines (Rene Russo) attempt to track down Leary before he manages to complete his threat and assassinate the President.

    This is a thriller that is certainly a cut above the pack, due mainly to the level of detail in the story, the flawed characters on both sides and the portrayal of the Secret Service. Apparently the methods shown are quite accurate to how they actually operate. Also, using the telephone to provide Leary with the chance to taunt Horrigan is a device that gives real credibility to the story and it is achieved with great effect due in no small part to the uniqueness of John Malkovich's voice. He really is quite menacing. Apparently, all the telephone conversations were filmed for real with Eastwood and Malkovich actually talking to each other while the scenes were being shot. Talk about realism. The only negative I find in the whole story is the use of Lilly Raines as a love-interest for Horrigan. In addition to there being some 24 years age difference between the two, it really does cheapen and weaken the part of the solid female agent played very well by Russo.

    I hadn't caught up again with this film since I saw it theatrically in 1993 and I was pleasantly surprised at how well it has aged. Despite some slightly sub-standard special effects (most notably the digital manipulation of original JFK footage), the whole film is very hard to date.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    Presented in the original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1, this transfer is 16x9 enhanced.

    This is a nicely detailed transfer that maintains an excellent overall level of sharpness throughout the film. Despite some scenes being quite dark and poorly lit, the level of shadow detail never falls below what I consider to be acceptable. The amount of grain is kept to an absolute minimum and there is no low level noise.

    The colours are the weakest part of this transfer, with skin tones the most notable problem area. Quite often, they appear to have a distinct reddish/orange tone to them (especially Clint Eastwood's character). This occurs throughout the film and is quite distracting. There are also a couple of small instances of colour bleed at 55:32 on the red balloons during the Presidential speech.

    I noticed no MPEG artefacts. Aliasing was very well controlled and virtually invisible. There were numerous film artefacts in the opening and closing sequences but they were few and far between for the majority of the film.

    Subtitles galore adorn this disc. I watched the English variety in their entirety during the commentary and found them average and with a small technical flaw. In addition to missing several line altogether including a couple of the important ones (like one of the few jokes delivered by Eastwood's character), they were out of sync with what was being said. They were displayed a good five seconds after the action on the screen, which makes it slightly difficult to keep up with what was going on if you were to rely on them.

    This disc is presented as a dual layered disc with RSDL formatting, with the layer change placed at 72:30. It is very nicely placed on a scene with little movement or sound in it and as such is barely perceptible.

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

Audio

    The original Region 4 DVD release of this movie featured two MPEG audio tracks in addition to the Dolby Digital 5.1 track. This release features a Dolby Digital 5.1 track in English, and Dolby Digital 2.0 surround tracks in German, French, and the English Commentary. I listened to both English tracks in their entirety. The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack delivers excellent separation to all channels and is a particular highlight of the disc.

    Dialogue was always clear and easily understood. There were no audio sync problems.

    The musical score is by Ennio Morricone and is very good. Tension is built superbly in a couple of key sequences due in the main to the menacing presence of John Malkovich and the musical score.

    The surround channels were used extensively throughout but not in the all-too-common and obvious remastered 5.1 manner where the engineers deem it necessary to pump all manner of sounds to the rears simply because they are there. Utilised, but with restraint is the best way to describe it.

    The subwoofer is also supported but to a lesser extent than the rear channels. It is also just as seamless. The specific use at 57:50 when Air Force One is on screen is quite impressive.

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

Extras

Menu Audio

    Not quite as good as the Region 1 disc, which features a nice themed introduction of Frank and Mitch on the phone. Ours simply has the theme playing on a static full screen (non 16x9 enhanced) menu.

Teaser Trailer

    Running for 1:23 minutes, this is the US teaser trailer. Presented full screen 1.33:1 with audio from a Dolby Digital 2.0 audio soundtrack.

Trailer

    Trailers for Random Hearts and A Few Good Men. The latter is a scratchy pan & scan abomination.

TV Spots

    Ten TV spots running sequentially for a total of 5:22 minutes. They are all virtually a re-hash of each other, though in the absence of the proper theatrical trailer I guess they are better than nothing. All are presented full screen 1.33:1 with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio.

Featurette - Catching The Counterfeiters

    The Secret Service was originally formed to counter the proliferation of counterfeiting. This 5:28 minute featurette shows a Secret Service agent demonstrating the devices that have been placed in the newer US currency to make it more difficult to counterfeit and easy to catch the counterfeiters. Not particularly relevant to us here in Australia and I think all this featurette really achieves is to highlight how much better the polymer notes that we use are compared to conventional paper.

Featurette - How'd They Do That?

    Running for 4:54 minutes this is presented full screen 1.33:1. It focuses on the special effects that were employed in the making of the film, primarily the digital manipulation of old footage to insert Clint Eastwood's character into the JFK motorcade, and digitally manipulating the crowd scenes to increase numbers during the presidential speeches. It all looks a little cheesy when compared with what is available these days and makes you realise just how far the world of special effects have come in a few short years.

Featurette - The Ultimate Sacrifice

    Made in 2000 and running for 22:14 minutes, this is a behind-the-scenes featurette that goes into some detail about the Secret Service and how the ultimate sacrifice is their duty to take a bullet for the person they are protecting should they ever be attacked. Features interviews with the cast and images from the film in addition to real life agent interviews and footage. Video is full screen 1.33:1 with snips from the film in 2.35:1 letterbox. It does not feature 16x9 enhancement. Audio is Dolby Digital 2.0.

Deleted Scenes

    Five deleted scenes that run for a total of 4:54 minutes. They do not come with any explanation as to why they were cut, though being quite tedious it is quite obvious why. All are presented with a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack and are in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1. They are not 16x9 enhanced.

Featurette - Showtime Featurette: Behind The Scenes With The Secret Service

    Hosted by retired Secret Service agent Bob Snow (who was also technical adviser in the film's production), this is a 19:56 minute featurette on just what it is that the Secret Service does. Quite informative and detailed, with particular highlights being the rarely-seen footage of agents in training and the replay of the assassination attempt on Ronald Reagan in 1981 showing a step by step analysis of how the agents reacted to the gun-shots. Overall, a worthy inclusion.

Biographies-Cast & Crew

    The usual very brief biographic details for the director and three principal cast members, complete with selected filmographies.

Audio Commentary - Director Wolfgang Petersen with J.M. Kenny

    Recorded in 2000, this is certainly one of the top few commentaries that I have heard. Director Wolfgang Petersen has experienced some bad audio commentaries in his time and wanted to make this one as interesting as possible. In the same vein as occurred on another of his films, The Perfect Storm, he is joined by the DVD Producer J.M. Kenny, who acts as a sort of interviewer/prompter to get Petersen focussed on a particular topic. This works quite well, as Kenny will often ask questions that I was thinking of myself. As a result though, this is not a hugely screen-specific commentary and more often than not Petersen will go into quite some detail about something that is not on-screen at the time. Still, this track is remarkably detailed and informative and a real bonus to the package, highlighting some of the intricacies of the film-making process. Wolfgang Petersen certainly ranks as one of the better commentators I have experienced.

R4 vs R1

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

   The Region 4 disc misses out on

        • English, Portuguese, and Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround soundtracks
        • Bonus Trailers for Air Force One and Das Boot.

    The Region 1 disc misses out on

        • German Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround soundtrack
        • Bonus Trailers for Random Hearts and A Few Good Men.

    The menus on the R1 disc are better with a more interesting menu introduction and audio presentation. In all other respects, the discs are virtually the same, so the local product is favoured due to superior PAL image and price.

Summary

    This is a fine thriller that is made all the more believable by a detailed and accurate screenplay and a suitably menacing performance from John Malkovich as the would-be assassin. It has aged remarkably well in the near-decade since it was made. Definitely worth a look.

    The video is up to the usual high standard we all expect from Columbia-Tristar. I've taken off half a mark due to the slightly poor skin tone rendering.

    The audio is excellent, with full use of all 5.1 speakers.

    The extras justify the tag of Collector's Edition and certainly add some value to the overall package.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Darren Walters (It's . . . just the vibe . . . of my bio)
Saturday, January 26, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDLoewe Xemix 5006DD, using RGB output
DisplayLoewe Calida (84cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationHarmon/Kardon AVR7000.
SpeakersFront - B&W 602S2, Centre - B&W CC6S2, Rear - B&W 601S2, Sub - Energy E:xl S10

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