Terrorists are setting off bombs in New York. No one is safe. Panic and hysteria grip the nation and the government, and in a split decision, martial law is declared on the city.
'The Siege' was filmed in 1998, but especially with our current worldwide situation, has some eerie parallels to today. It's timely to bring this movie out at this time. When torture and terrorism are so prevalent in the news 'The Siege' offers a glimpse of what could happen if things went too far.
Okay, I know I'm reading too deep into the film. It stars Bruce Willis and Denzel Washington and it's basically a run-of-the-mill political espionage thriller, but it does bring up some worthwhile talking points.
Washington is FBI agent Anthony Hubbard. He's trying to track down a terrorist cell, or cells, that may be operating right out of New York City. There's a problem though. These cells don't act like other cells. These terrorists are independent, and when one cell dies, another rises in its place, taking over where its predecessor left off.
Hubbard is plagued by the meddling of a secretive CIA agent played by Annette Bening. Hubbard is infuriated because she doesn't have the right to operate within the United States and she isn't sharing any information with him. It's one of those classic bureaucratic messes that end up costing lives rather than saving them.
After one too many bombings, and with no end to the terror in sight, Major General William Devereaux (Bruce Willis) is called in to police the city and get the terrorism under control. They do this mainly by restricting freedoms and racially profiling Arab Americans. They round them all up and stick them in confined places, much like what was done to the Japanese during World War II.
Some critics came out against the movie upon its release, saying it was mean-spirited and racist against a certain group of people. On the contrary, I thought it was a good way of showing what could happen if things were taken too far in a time of war, and depending on your views, parallels how terror suspects have been dealt with in recent years.
Washington gives a very passionate speech as the General is torturing a suspect, arguing that we're no better than the terrorists if we pursue that option. Tony Shalhoub also delivers a strong performance as an Arab-American FBI agent whose son is targeted as a suspect just because of his race.
Made a few years before the 9/11 attacks, 'The Siege' still contains some hot-button issues that have resurfaced in the past few years and are still being talked about on a global stage. As an action thriller 'The Siege' suffers a bit by trying too hard to make the terrorists the bad guys, only to turn completely around in the third act and switching the villain to General Devereaux and his over-zealous troops. But in all seriousness, 'The Siege' could be a launching point for people to discuss the tricky topics involved within the movie.
This 1080p MPEG-2 transfer is plagued with problems. The fly-over of the sand dunes at the very beginning is about as good as things get. The color timing is all off. At some points skin tones are way too pink and at other times they're far too muted. Shadow delineation really suffers during the night scenes, making it hard to see facial details. DNR has been applied to the picture, but there is still some source noise and blips. There is also some pretty noticeable edge enhancement going on. The city fly-over shots were beleaguered by aliasing lines on the buildings when the camera passed by the windows. Ending on a strong note though, explosions do look well-done, as fireballs rip through the air and smoke billows into the sky.
'The Siege' uses the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 for its above average sound quality. There's some good use of deep bass during explosions and intense scenes. The surround channels are used very effectively, creating an immersive effect when film scenes take place in the middle of New York City. The bus scene is especially engrossing. The music did seem slightly too loud, sometimes muffling soft dialogue, but overall, the sound is much better than the accompanying video. It's more than sufficient for this action thriller.
Tisk, tisk 20th Century Fox. Not one single special feature on here, just a trailer. There was one featurette included on the first DVD release in 2000. Two more featurettes were added to the 'Martial Law Edition' in 2007. But, none of those featurettes find themselves onto this Blu-ray. That's just inexcusable. It's bad enough when you get a Blu-ray that didn't add anything extra, and just kept the old stuff, but to not even get the old stuff? That's an insult to Blu-ray consumers everywhere. Poor form Fox, very poor form.
You're definitely not buying this for any other reason than if you like the movie. The picture quality is all off, the audio is decent, but the special features are non-existent. It's almost as if Fox didn't even want to spend the extra time to get the old featurettes on the disc. 'The Siege' may offer the opportunity to discuss current events after the film, but other than that, it's not going to give you much more enjoyment.
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