The usual deal was expected when this movie came out earlier this year, a poor or average at best movie that doesn’t really impress which is why it might have been relegated to a limited and VOD release. But when it was reviewed here, I was surprised to find it was a fairly decent movie with strong performances, if unremarkable. The film is released today on Blu-Ray so for those who have missed it, perhaps now is a good time to check it out.
The movie covers, or attacks, the US policy of attacking potential insurgents and the disconnect of using drones, operated from thousands of miles away to do it. In reality, it’s only a critique of blowing up civilians. I.e. if a man is spotted with a weapon, blow his ass to hell, even if 75% of the population carries weapons. Then, when the funeral is held for the baddie, blow it up too, because the victim’s military cohorts are likely to be in attendance.
But what happens when you sit all day watching people in a steel hut in Arizona, where it’s patently obvious they’re just farmers, and a call from the CIA comes in ordering you to kill ’em all? And the guy is telling you to do it with increasing frequency?
Clichés happen. A bottle of jack hidden behind the toilet, wife leaving with the kids, smashing mirrors in a rage. There’s nothing particularly special here, other movies have done it better. But there are good performances. Hawke’s Major is reserved and played with subtlety, he’s using his skills as an actor to carry the weight of his orders. Bruce Greenwood is there as Hawke’s superior, also burdened and giving another fine, grounded performance. This movie also has my favourite line from any movie so far this year. When a cop asks Hawke how the war on terror is going, his response is “…kinda like your war on drugs”. Given that Afganistan is the engine room of the opium trade, that’s some slick dialogue. Figure it out.
The best thing about the Blu-Ray, for those thinking of purchasing it, is the actual transfer itself. Shot digitally, there is no offensively synthetic feel as might have been found with the likes of Public Enemies, directed by Michael Mann. It looks natural yet beautiful, the horizon of the Arizona desert is a feature in itself with this release. There are a lot of close ups in this movie was well, as well as a lot of drone cam footage, but the movie doesn’t fail there either. The audio, at 5.1 DTS-HD, doesn’t disappoint either.
On the downside there is something to be desired with extras, perhaps even for such a small movie. There is only one fifteen minute documentary, which although although at least feels like it was commissioned for home release as opposed to some net file used for promotion, is still kind of ‘not enough’. But I suppose that it could have been worse. Ultimately, not a movie for everyone. Especially if American Sniper was up your alley.