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.
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.
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.
"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.