Plot: What’s it about?
Poor Mr. Schwarzenegger…well, let’s not feel too sorry for him; after all he is pocketing some $30 million dollars for T3. But let’s face it, Arnold is not the box office draw that he used to be. Back in "the day" of Terminator 2: Judgment Day, The Running Man, Predator and so many others like it, he was always reliable and could be counted on to deliver the goods. Now, as his body is not near the hulk it was in years past, what does he have to fall back upon? But like I said…let’s not feel too sorry for him! Now as for the film, it’s had a lot to deal with since it was set to be released last Fall, but the terrorist attacks on our country took care of that and it was then released in the early part of 2002. Collateral Damage was supposed to have a scene where a plane crashed into a building, but for obvious reasons, it was removed. So we have the director of one of my favorite movies (The Fugitive), a very seasoned action star (Ah-nuld) and a plot that was written by someone who needs a lot of practice. The elements are there, but for some reason I felt like I was watching a cut-rate "B" movie on USA.
In another uncanny parallel to the events of last September, Arnold plays Brewer, a firefighter. Naturally the firefighters and policemen of New York came out as the heroes of the event and here’s the first movie to liken that. As a terrorist attack goes wrong, it turns out that his wife and small child are killed in the attack. Taking it personally, he vows to find the man responsible. His name…El Lobo. And in a nutshell, that’s it. It’s like "Commando", fifteen years later only bad. For some odd reason, there are two cameos by John Leguizamo and John Turturro (as a drug lord and a prisioner respectively). I’ve no idea why they were in the film, perhaps to give it a little more star power or maybe Andrew Davis lost in a Hollywood poker game and had to put them in a film of his. The film tries to make some twists and turns to keep us guessing, and it succeeds in some parts. Still, I found this the same "been there, done that" type of movie that Mr. Schwarzenegger has done so many other times.
As for the work of Andrew Davis, I really don’t know what happened to him. His earlier work with Gene Hackman and Tommy Lee Jones (The Package), The Fugitive and Under Siege (for all its cornyness) were all very good movies. I guess every movie a director makes can’t all be good, but combining Arnold and an action movie seem like a dead lock (how do you mess that up)? Still, it’s not all a waste. There are people I know who loved the movie and for them, this disc will be a gem. It has a great-looking transfer and a fair amount of supplements to boot. Unfortunately for me, it’s not all supplements and A/V that drive a movie, though it helps. I’ll give Arnold another shot, but he’s got to realize that he can only keep those muscles for so long…
Video: How does it look?
The film isn’t that long (though it feels like it in places) and it is dual-layered to boot. What does this mean? The 1.85:1 anamorphic image looks very good. Colors are rich and vibrant, the level of detail is solid and I noticed no artifacts or anything else that would yield a major error. Some of the CGI could use a little work, but I really don’t think that’s the fault of the transfer. There are a few scenes that appear a bit too dark, but nothing to really worry about. A new movie to hit DVD, this is what they’re made for. Sit back, relax and enjoy!
Audio: How does it sound?
Another area in which this disc excels is the very robust Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. As you can imagine, there are plenty of guns, planes and explosions to keep all five of your channels busy during the 109 minutes that the movie runs. Dialogue is free of distortion and the surrounds seem to be running almost the entire movie. A few times during the presentation, there isn’t anyone being shot or mamed and as such, the action is limited to the front three channels. Overall, it’s a kickin’ soundtrack that shouldn’t disappoint anyone.
Supplements: What are the extras?
Andrew Davis, as in his commentary for "The Fugitive" is rather talkative here. There are some blank spots where he sits back and watches the movie, but it’s a rather good commentary track (I liked it better than the movie) and one that I’d recommend listening to. In addition there are two featurettes (that the box labels documentaries) entitled "Behind the Scenes" and "The Hero in a New Era". Behind the scenes is just that, an EPK featurette that has some interviews with the cast and crew. The Hero in a New Era focuses on, you guessed it, the post-Sept. 11 hero in films. Neither of these add that much value to the film, but it’s nice to have them around. Some cast and crew bios along with the trailer are included as well. There are also some DVD-ROM bonuses as well, in the form of a website link, chat room access and some future web events. Some deleted scenes are also included. All in all, I really didn’t care for the film that much; but Warner has given it some added value with their supplements, so it might be worth a rental.