Plot: What’s it about?
Walter Emerson (Kevin Pollak) served as an appointed vice president, but when he was called on, he took office as the president of the United States. Now in the election days of 2008, Emerson is working toward capturing the office via public opinion, as some feel the people do not support his position. Emerson is on the campaign trail in Colorado, when a massive snowstorm hits and leaves he and his crew stuck in a small time diner. Inside the diner are some locals and such, but what once was a small eatery has become the homebase for the president and his affairs. As he meets and greets the locals at the diner, Emerson doesn’t even think twice about what’s happening across the globe, until he learns about it on the news. It seems as though Iraqi forces have begun a military action in the Middle East and with chemical & biological weapons involved, the threat is very serious. Emerson takes action and issues an ultimatum to the Iraqi forces, in the form of a deadly military strike. If the forces do not withdraw and leave the lethal weapons behind, Emerson will engage a nuclear strike on the city of Baghdad. In just one hour and twenty minutes, a choice will be made by one side, but which choice is the correct one?
I wasn’t sure how this film would turn out, but I have to say I am very pleased that I took the time to check out Deterrence. The movie runs on one element, dialogue and that might shake some folks off the trail, but the writing and cast needed to sustain such a film are present here. The writing is terrific and uses very realistic tones to create a suspenseful atmosphere, which really makes this a tense overall experience. The suspense is thick and right up until the final second, it had me as a captive audience. The characters seem so real and basic, yet reveal themselves as complex as the film unfolds, which is also due to the tremendous writing. While the movie moves a somewhat slow pace at first glance, I felt like things were running a mile a minute, especially as the film wound down. I know this type of movie isn’t for everyone, but those looking for an intelligent and suspense filled drama, Deterrence is one you’ll want to check out. As an incentive to own the film, Paramount has included a nice video/audio selection and a of couple cool bonus features. Whether you choose to rent or purchase this disc, your money will be well spent.
If you want suspense and tension in a film like this, then you need some skilled writing and a solid director, right? This one is fueled by the writing and directing of Rod Lurie, who creates a taut storyline and then fills it with a load of interesting, but familiar characters. His directing style is rather basic in form, but more than gets the task at hand done, and done well. The visuals have a simple, but effective impact and with a film like this, you don’t want/need fancy and distracting visual strokes. As a writer, Lurie shines and delivers a fantastic and tense dialogue driven picture. Using an equal blend of reality and fantasy, Lurie is able to make the situations and characters seem very possible, which is crucial for a film of this ilk. I’ve never seen Lurie’s other work such as The Contender and 4 Second Delay, but based on this movie, I will be looking into them. This film has a terrific ensemble cast, lead by Kevin Pollak who turns in a very solid performance. Pollak (The Usual Suspects, Grumpy Old Men) doesn’t get the top spot very often, but he proves he can handle the task here. The impressive supporting cast includes Sheryl Lee Ralph (Sister Act 2, White Man’s Burden), Clotilde Courau (Map Of The Human Heart), Timothy Hutton (The General’s Daughter, Playing God), and Rudy himself, Sean Astin (Dish Dogs, Bulworth).
Video: How does it look?
Deterrence is presented in a 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. This film features some stock footage, television shots, and other non film elements and though these pieces look poor, the movie itself looks very good. I will say that this film’s print had more nicks and debris than usual, but the overall image is still good enough. The colors seem bold, but never overly rich and flesh tones remain natural and warm at all times. The contrast seems sharp also, no detail loss in the least and shadow depth is acceptable. I found no compression flaws with this transfer and though it isn’t perfect, I doubt many will complain.
Audio: How does it sound?
This is a dialogue driven film in all respects, so don’t expect a powerful mix from the included 2.0 surround. I wasn’t impressed by this audio track, but it more than gets this film’s material across well. The vocals sound crisp and clear, with no distortion or harshness to contend with at all. This is good, since the dialogue accounts for the vast majority of the audio presence. The music and sound effects serve as mere background noise and come as such here, which is how it should be. You might not be blown away by this one, but it sounds just as it should in the end. Optional English subtitles have also been included, which is always a good thing.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This disc includes the film’s theatrical trailer, as well as an audio commentary with writer/director Rod Lurie. This is a very informative track and Lurie isn’t afraid to discuss his weaker points, which is always admirable. If you enjoyed the feature, I think this track will be one you’ll want to give a spin to.