Plot: What’s it about?
Not to be confused by the 2006 film of the same name, The Covenant is director Guy Ritchie’s latest endeavor. In case you weren’t aware, he put his name in front of the title. I’m not sure if it was to differentiate itself from the aforementioned movie or Ritchie has a huge ego. Maybe both. Whatever the case, I found this film a pleasure to watch and it’s good to see Ritchie can still deliver the goods. Throw in Jake Gyllenhaal, who was no doubt having flashbacks to his days on Jarhead, and there’s something pretty unique and interesting to be found. I will say, however, that this movie isn’t for everyone. A lot of movies about war aren’t. So if you’re not keen on Ritchie’s directing and visual style and war movies aren’t your thing – this isn’t for you (then again, if that’s the case, why are you reading this to begin with)? At any rate, let’s dive in.
With over seven billion dollars in military equipment left in Afghanistan, it pales in comparison to the nearly 80,000 Afghan allies. Most of these people were promised visas for themselves and their families after their missions were completed. What this film does is tells their story through the lens of Master Sgt. John Kinley (Jake Gyllenhaal). Kinley leads and elite unit looking for Afghan insurgents. He’s put his trust in their local interpreter, but also in knowledge of the communities of the surrounding areas. Their newest interpreter is Ahmed (Dar. Salim), a former mechanic. He’s able to predict an ambush early on and has a personal vendetta against the Taliban as they murdered his son. In essence, this is their story.
Just as Saving Private Ryan was a fairly straightforward film (get in, extract the only remaining son, get out) there are a lot more layers to this story than meets the eye. And I’ll freely and fully admit that I went into this film not wanting to like it. Isn’t that open-minded? Add to that, I’m a fan of Jake Gyllenhaal who seems to bring another layer of depth to his character. There aren’t many working actors who could pull this off, but he does – and he does it well. Finally, I do have to say that this has renewed my faith in Guy Ritchie. I’m all about eccentric filmmakers, but not many can bring their vision to screen like him. While the genre might be for everyone, this is certainly one worth checking out if the mood hits you.
Video: How’s it look?
The 2.39:1 AVC HD encode is nothing short of perfection. If you’ve not been spoiled by 4K, don’t think that something can’t look good just because it lacks that moniker. The Covenant looks spot on from opening to closing. As we might imagine, the color palette is a bit on the muted side with earthy tones taking front and center. Browns, oranges and reds abound in the same vein as other films of this nature (Saving Private Ryan, Jarhead, etc.). Expansive wide shots show us broad, sweeping visuals that are complimented by extreme close-ups. Ritchie has a way with the camera and his hyperkinetic approach really works here. This is a good-looking film.
Audio: How’s it sound?
There are films made for Dolby Atmos and there are others that just carry that label. This one, as we might have guessed, is one that’s made for an atmospheric sound mix. Surrounds are almost constantly engaged, the front stage sports a nice, robust mix to it as well and the LFE are heavily used. The movie runs the gamut of sound from sharp, pointed dialogue to post-war flashbacks that, literally, pack a punch. In short, this is the kind of movie you can watch on a Saturday afternoon and turn it up and feel is seep in. Spot on perfection.
Supplements: What are the extras?
Sadly, this comes with no extras, not even a trailer.
The Bottom Line
Guy Ritchie’s films are hit a miss. This is the former. If you’re a fan of his earlier works like Snatch and Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels – this is essentially the “war movie” equivelant. Warner’s disc contains reference-quality audio and video, but the lack of any extras is a bit disappointing.