The Fourth Angel (2001)

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Released 5-May-2003

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Thriller Main Menu Audio & Animation
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-18 minutes of cast and director interviews
Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2001
Running Time 91:24
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By John Irvin

Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring Jeremy Irons
Forest Whitaker
Charlotte Rampling
Jason Priestley
Briony Glassco
Case ?
RPI $19.95 Music Paul Zaza

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/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 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

    The Fourth Angel is a classy thriller based on the Robin Hunter novel Angel and adopts the well worn Hollywood theme of: man's family gets wiped out by the bad guys, the authorities fail miserably to bring them to justice, so the hero has to strut his vigilante stuff to wreak his revenge. A quintessential English production, The Fourth Angel lacks the Hollywood razzmatazz of jump-jets, space shuttles and swimsuit busting babes but more than compensates for this by a beautifully crafted film, with real actors, credible action and locales.

    Jeremy Irons leads the cast as Jack Elgin,  foreign affairs editor for a magazine, whose business combined with family trip to India turns to personal tragedy when his family falls fouls of the hitherto unknown August 15th movement. His grief turns to incredulity and anger when the arrested surviving terrorists are secretly set free and deported. Seeking answers, he turns to industry contacts, a nondescript CIA operative played by Jason Priestley, and the taciturn and feisty ex-Foreign Office operative Charlotte Rampling. After the mysterious gunning down of several of the liberated terrorists, FBI agent Jules Bernard (Forest Whitaker) arrives, and there follows an engaging cat-and-mouse game, and battle of wits between Elgin and himself.

    Although lacking (thankfully) the intrigue and convoluted twists of a Le Carre tale, or the extraordinary detail of a Tom Clancy plot, The Fourth Angel nevertheless engages and entertains the viewer for its 90 minute duration. Jeremy Irons, as ever, is superb — every facial twitch or mannerism conveys an emotion. Forest Whitaker is perfectly cast as a foil for the battle of wits: good guy-bad guy, black-white, American smart-alec versus cultured English gentry. Aviation enthusiasts will no doubt cast an interested eye over the flight-deck (complete with flight engineer—redundant since the 747-400 series), and gawk at the amazing cross-wind landing at 6:23. The message, all too relevant in light of previous and present events, is that the good-guy, bad-guy distinction is seldom well defined. Trust no one — the truth may very well be out there, but seek it at your own risk!

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Transfer Quality


    The video quality is as good as would be hoped for from a recent production.

    The transfer is in the original 2.35:1 aspect ratio and is 16x9 enhanced.

    Detail is reasonable, but it's certainly not the sharpest transfer I've seen and I think the encoding bit-rate has been kept down to allow the feature to be released on a DVD-5 disc. Shadow detail is reasonable, and there was no low-level noise.

    The colours were natural, certainly not vibrant, reflecting the rather dreary locations that the feature was filmed at. There was no chroma noise nor over-saturation.

    In keeping with the resolution limits there is little by way of aliasing — just the occasional shimmer on rooftops as at 3:28. There were no other MPEG artefacts of note. The film is very clean and I could pick up no film artefacts of note.

    There were no subtitles.

    The review copy of this disc was, in fact, dual-layered, but all the feature was fitted on layer 0 so I suspect the release version will be on a single layer DVD-5.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    The overall quality of the soundtrack was good.

    There are two audio tracks on this DVD. The default is an English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. There is also a Dolby Digital 2.0 surround encoded version.

    The dialogue was clear and easily understandable, apart from the foreign language middle-European dialogue.

    There were no problems with the audio synch.

    The film was scored by long-standing film composer Paul Zaza, who was responsible for the music accompaniment to such notable films as Porky's and Saltwater Moose. The ambience of the score very effectively set the varying emotional mood of the film, but wasn't particularly memorable.

    The surrounds were used in a low-key fashion to augment the action scenes but this is not a disc to show off your sound system.

    The subwoofer was quiet for the majority of the film but sprang into life effectively at the appropriate times to support explosions.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use



    The animated menu is presented in 16x9 enhanced 1.78:1 aspect ratio.

Theatrical Trailer

    An excellent 1:52 teaser for the feature presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, 16x9 enhanced and with Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded sound.

Featurette - Behind the scenes

    An interesting 18 minute feature, interviewing the key actors and director talking about the film and (of course!) each other.

R4 vs R1

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

   This film, like Collateral Damage, was another casualty of September 11th, which delayed its US theatrical release. The film distributors seem to have decided that the subject matter of this film is unlikely to be popular, and so there appears not to be an R1 American release. There is a Canadian R1 release, however, from Seville Pictures

    The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on:

    The Region 1 version of this disc misses out on:

    In the absence of any definitive information regarding R4 censorship, our local version would appear to be the clear favourite.


   I like films of this ilk, and am pleased to add it to my collection. It is disturbing, and many may find the subject matter too close to home at the present time. Certainly worth a rental, and if you're into guns, airplanes and world politics, you'd consider a purchase.

    The video quality is good but could have been better with an RSDL presentation.

    The audio quality is good, but the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is probably an overkill and the 2.0 surround version doesn't miss out on much.

    The extras are minimal, the bare minimum acceptable for anyone with an interest in movies.

Ratings (out of 5)


© John Lancaster (read my bio)
Monday, October 28, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDEAD 8000 Pro, using RGB output
DisplayNEC MP3. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum.
Audio DecoderNaim AV2. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationTheta Digital Intrepid
SpeakersML Aeon front. B&W LRC6 Centre. ML Script rear. REL Strata III SW.

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