The Presidio (1988)

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Released 6-Jul-2001

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Theatrical Trailer-2:30mins, 1.85:1 and 16x9 enhanced
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1988
Running Time 94:35
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Programme
Region Coding 4 Directed By Peter Hyams

Paramount Home Entertainment
Starring Sean Connery
Mark Harmon
Meg Ryan
Jack Warden
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $39.95 Music Bruce Broughton

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Hungarian Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.30:1
16x9 Enhancement
Not 16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles Czech
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

    The Presidio is a military base on the outskirts of San Francisco. During a routine patrol, an MP, Patti Jean Lynch (Jeanette Goldstein) comes across an open door at the Officer's Club. Calling for backup, she proceeds (against a direct order - go figure) to investigate and is shot by two men who escape in their car. Her back-up espy the fleeing car and proceed to give chase, leaving the confines of the base (again against express orders) and a car chase across the city of San Francisco ensues. During a spectacular crash, the pursuing MPs are incinerated when their car explodes, and the offenders escape into the night.

    Enter Lt. Colonel Caldwell (Sean Connery) who begins the investigation for the military at the Officer's Club and is joined by Detective Jay Austin (Mark Harmon) of the SFPD who has been assigned the case on behalf of the local authorities. Austin, a former MP himself turns out to have been a friend of the dead MP, Lynch, and so has a special interest in the case.

    The initial list of suspects turns out to be fairly light, with the finger being pointed at Austin's old commander with whom he has some bad blood, Colonel Paul Lawrence (Dana Gladstone). It was Lawrence who had Austin drummed out of the military because of an indiscretion. Naturally Austin has it in for him, but Caldwell, the astute old warrior, isn't so sure that everything they are seeing is the whole truth. The investigation takes a turn when Caldwell turns up some information regarding the owner of the getaway car, a Mr Arthur Peale (Mark Blum), and his affiliation with the CIA in Vietnam as well as that of Lawrence. Slowly, they begin to unravel a rather nefarious smuggling operation.

    This isn't exactly one of Peter Hyams' better directorial efforts. After his previous effort with Running Scared, this felt a little one-dimensional at times and the actors, even though they are reasonably good really struggle with the script. Connery is ... well, Connery and rarely turns in a bad performance, but even he struggles in this effort (although he does have one excellent scene with his thumb "I'm only going to use my thumb" and a bully in a bar played by Rick Zumwalt). There are simply too many glaring holes in the script, some big enough to drive a bus through and the less said about the superfluous interplay between Harmon and Meg Ryan, the better, although the 'passionate interest' provides one very watchable scene.

    Jack Warden (Sgt Major McClure) puts in a decent enough performance, but the solving of the crime and the way it's all hung together really was a bit of a waste. This is a good enough movie if you turn your brain onto automatic for an hour and a half, but it definitely isn't going to win any Oscars.

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Transfer Quality


    The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.30:1, but is NOT 16x9 enhanced. The initial movie release was in an aspect ratio of 2.40:1 which is fairly close.

    The picture is slightly blurry throughout, although there is little evidence of edge enhancement which is a pleasant surprise. Shadow detail is reasonable with good fine detail available in some scenes. Grain is fairly endemic through the whole movie but it is not too disconcerting. Low level noise was not an issue.

    The colour is quite excellent, with a full and vibrant palette in use. There was no obvious colour bleed visible and oversaturation was not an issue.

    There are a myriad of small and minor flecks on offer through the course of the movie. Most of them were obvious but only of a minor nature. As usual, the opening few minutes were the worst. There was consistent shimmering which did occasionally break up into more annoying aliasing (20:02 on the background cars is probably the worst example). There was a very noticeable moiré effect on the TV in shot at 22:17.

    Subtitles are big, bold and beautiful, very easy to read and occupy the black bar beneath the picture. There is also an ample choice on offer.

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


    Considering the relative age of this movie, I wasn't exactly holding my breath for high quality sound, and so therefore it is all-the-more surprising that this offers a diverse and encompassing soundtrack with a high tonal quality about it. The Dolby Digital 5.1 track offers quite a full, enveloping effect.

    There were a good variety of soundtracks on offer. First there was an English Dolby Digital 5.1 track at 384 kilobits per second. Next, there were French, German, Italian and Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround tracks at 192 kilobits per second. Finally, there was a Hungarian Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono track also at 192 kilobits per second. I sampled all of the available soundtracks but stuck primarily with the English language track.

    The dialogue was well-presented and easy to understand, even the brogue of Sean Connery. There was no noticeable problem with audio sync.

    The music was used quite sparingly throughout the movie, often with large breaks in between. Primarily used to support the on-screen action, it was aptly muted when the dialogue needed to take precedence.

    The most pleasant surprise of this soundtrack was the excellent use of the surround channels. Used to offer a solid envelope for the sound, they also chimed in any time they were needed for special effects. A prime example is during the car chase scene at 50:51 where you get a real idea of the surround support added to the mix.

    The subwoofer doesn't fare as well as the surrounds, but given the largely dialogue-driven script, you don't expect as much. There was a fair amount of low level bass redirected to the .1 channel to give it some decent interplay with the music and effects.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


Theatrical Trailer

    Standard fare, although surprisingly this is show in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and is 16x9 enhanced, unlike the movie itself. There are the usual artefacts and grain present and accounted for, and the overall look is very soft.

R4 vs R1

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

    There appears to be no difference between the R4 and R1 versions.


    The Presidio is a fairly lacklustre effort given Hyams previous effort (Running Scared), although it is watchable. It's a pity, really - the cast is good enough to have made this a real pearler.

    The video is pretty good considering there is no 16x9 enhancement which really bugs me. Even on a standard 4x3 TV this is going to look a little flat because of it.

    The audio is slightly better overall. It's good without being exceptional or memorable

    The extras are pretty much status quo for a back-catalogue release (sod all).

Ratings (out of 5)


© Carl Berry (read my bio)
Monday, August 06, 2001
Review Equipment
DVDLoewe Xemix 5006DD, using RGB output
DisplayLoewe Xelos (81cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderRotel RSP-976. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationRotel RB 985 MkII
SpeakersJBL TLX16s Front Speakers, Polk Audio LS fx di/bipole Rear Speakers, Polk Audio CS350-LS Centre Speaker, M&KV-75 Subwoofer

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