Blu-ray
Rent it
2.5 stars
Amazon
$13.57
Usually ships in 24 hours Buy Now»
Overall Grade
2.5 stars

(click linked text below to jump to related section of the review)

The Movie Itself
2 Stars
HD Video Quality
3.5 Stars
HD Audio Quality
3 Stars
Supplements
1 Stars
High-Def Extras
0.5 Stars
Bottom Line
Rent it

Unthinkable

Street Date:
June 15th, 2010
Reviewed by:
Nate Boss
Review Date: 1
June 16th, 2010
Movie Release Year:
2010
Studio:
Sony
Length:
97 Minutes
MPAA Rating:
Rated R
Release Country
United States

The Movie Itself: Our Reviewer's Take

How far would you go to protect your country?

'Unthinkable' is a terror plot drama from Gregor Jordan, written by Peter Woodward, in which there's a manhunt for one Steven Arthur Younger (Michael Sheen), a man accused of killing a cop and abducting two children. But that's just the public facade. Younger is already in custody. He's a national security threat, a really, really big one. This American citizen, with a former military background, has renounced his name, and taken on a new Islamic one. He's also renounced his country, in a sense, by planting three nuclear bombs in three US cities, and setting to explode if his demands aren't met. With little time remaining before the imposed deadline, the ante is being upped by the government, as they bring in the mysterious interrogator H (Samuel L. Jackson), who is accompanied by FBI agent Helen Brody (Carrie-Anne Moss), as they try to crack Younger's psyche. H is out to torture the life out of Younger, while Brody objects on legal grounds at every turn, in a twist on the whole good cop-bad cop ploy.

This isn't an action film. There's no cop racing against the deadline to save the day/country/world. Rather, the "cop" is staring at a pile of bureaucracy, ignoring convention and law, and playing doctor with some electricity and sharp metal objects. 'Unthinkable' is a story to make one guess, and second guess themselves, who is truly right, and who is wrong, when do the lines between good and bad begin to blur? Are there really even bombs in place ready to explode?

'Unthinkable' is interesting, in the fact that it's a different take on the subject, where heroes aren't exactly good, and villains may not necessarily be bad, or villains at all, and we don't know what to think or who to trust. But the entire idea that this is to be a psychological thriller, fails. This is supposed to be a cat and mouse game, but it's lacking drama. If it weren't for the superb performance by Sheen, this would have been as torturous to us, the viewers, as it is to Younger, the character. Dialogue is cringe-worthy and delivered in the signature Samuel L. Jackson Acting Decathlon style ("The only miscalculation in your plan...(dramatic pause)...was me!"), characters are underdeveloped and one dimensional (save for H and Younger), and there are layers and layers of story and character that could be easily trimmed.

This film really could have been something so much better, but it seems to want to revel in its gratuitous violence, and act like it's for a purpose. It wants to show the depths that some men will go to get what they want, yet it does the same thing in the process, and as such, alienates its audience. 'Unthinkable' is one of those films that could have been something more, if only it had tried to be more unique. The threat of nuclear bombs is old news, played out by the movies for years. It takes a special film to make 'The Sum of All Fears' look good, and 'Unthinkable' earns this questionable distinction.

The Video: Sizing Up the Picture

Sony gives 'Unthinkable' an AVC MPEG-4 encode at 1080p in the native 1.85:1 ratio. The result isn't anything amazing. You get flashes of brilliance, then reality comes crashing in. Skin tones fluctuate from natural to flush and pale. Black levels and detail are just as hit or miss. There is some light artifacting to be found, as well as the occasional bit of ringing that was a tad distracting. There are a few times when the film switches to either stock footage, or "mock" stock footage, altered in appearance to look like news broadcasts that look nothing like the rest of the film, with minimal detail and tons of static. Grain levels thankfully remain the same throughout. They may be the only constant.

The Audio: Rating the Sound

If you want to watch 'Unthinkable,' you better be able to speak English. For some odd reason, Sony felt it would be a good idea to not give this release any foreign anything. No dub, no subtitles. You can watch the film in English (in a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix), or read it in English or English (subtitled for the deaf and hard of hearing). There isn't even a tab to select (or confirm) audio. If this disc were Region A locked, I'd get it, but this one is coded so New Zealand, Australia, and the UK, as well as other Region B countries can play it. A shame not every single one of 'em speaks English...

The lone audio choice isn't bad by any means, but it fails to sparkle or impress in any way. It's incredibly inconsistent. The score can reach the rears beautifully, with great range, peaks and valleys, both in pitch and volume...but then will drop off the face of the Earth for almost an entire act. There are a few flashes of rear ambience, slight movement, localization, you name it...but then it all disappears to a center-centric atmosphere that doesn't exactly put you in the room. Really, it can pull you out of the film. Bass levels are nice, randomly giving some bump during title cards (a new day, THUUUUDDDD), and a few little accents in the score, but it goes AWOL as well. At least the dialogue doesn't decide to take a vacation, as it remains solid, and intelligible throughout. Like the video, this is all over the place.

The Supplements: Digging Into the Good Stuff

  • Two cuts of the film - 'Unthinkable' is presented in the original cut, and the extended cut. Notice the word "theatrical" wasn't used.
  • Audio Commentary - With Gregor Jordan. Jordan reveals the FBI involvement in the film, and why they removed their involvement from the project (oh so funny), the constructive criticisms from those in real-life parallels on what was done wrong with the film, before he proceeds to toot his own horn on how realistic he finds all of this. He discusses the differences in (perceived) mentalities between peoples, bringing up theoretical issues that trouble the United States to this day, and rambles on and on, and doesn't spend all that much time discussing the film itself.
  • Previews - Trailers for 'Chloe,' 'Harry Brown,' 'The Square,' 'The Road,' 'Wild Things: Foursome,' 'The Runaways,' and 'The Last Station.' There is no trailer for 'Unthinkable,' thankfully, since it contains each and every one of the worst lines in the film.

HD Bonus Content: Any Exclusive Goodies in There?

There are some high def exclusives to this release, but they don't amount to much. First, there's a BD-Live portat that is devoid of any content for the film, and then there's a MovieIQ track (playable on either cut of the film), which is Sony's Blu-ray enhanced trivia track extra.

Final Thoughts

"This is unconstitutional!" - Helen Brody

"Helen, if those bombs go off, there will be no Constitution!" - H

"It's almost over...it's almost over..." - Nate Boss

'Unthinkable' didn't make a splash when it hit theaters. Oh wait, it didn't hit theaters. A Samuel L. Jackson direct-to-video film. Hell, even 'Snakes on a Plane' uncoiled through projectors! Perhaps there's a reason for this...ah, yes, this film is a mess. This Blu-ray is just average. Due to the talent involved, it's hard to suggest viewers ignore this one, but it deserves a rental first, as I do not see all that much replay value once the big twist is revealed. No, trees aren't killing people. I would have welcomed that.

Technical Specs

  • Blu-ray
  • BD50 Dual Layer Disc
  • Region A/B

Video Resolution/Codec

  • 1080p/AVC MPEG-4

Aspect Ratio(s)

  • 1.85:1

Audio Formats

  • English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1

Subtitles/Captions

  • English, English SDH

Supplements

  • Commentary with director Gregor Jordan
  • Extended Version of the film with alternate ending

Exclusive HD Content

  • BD-Live
  • movieIQ™+sync

All disc reviews at High-Def Digest are completed using the best consumer HD home theater products currently on the market. More about our gear.

Puzzled by the technical jargon in our reviews, or wondering how we assess and rate HD DVD and Blu-ray discs? Learn about our review methodology.

Amazon
$13.57
Usually ships in 24 hours Buy Now»

Related reviews