The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: Sony Pictures - 2009
MPAA Rating: R
Feature running time: 97 minutes
Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 1.85:1
Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio
Subtitles: English, English SDH
Starring: Samuel L. Jackson, Michael Sheen, Carrie-Anne Moss, Brandon Routh, Martin Donovan, Gil Bellows
Directed by: Gregor Jordan
Music by: Graeme Revell
Written by: Peter Woodward
Region Code: A, B
Blu-ray Disc release Date: June 15, 2010
"Right and wrong no longer exist"
The most suspenseful thriller of the year explores just how far we will go to protect ourselves and our country. When a nuclear expert-turned-extremist (Micheal Sheen, "Underworld") plants devices in three separate cities, the country's counter-terrorism force springs into action and captures him. But the location of his bombs remains a mystery. With time running out, FBI agent Helen Brody (Carrie-Anne Moss, "Disturbia") agrees to work alongside a mysterious interrogator known only as "H" (Samuel L. Jackson, "Lakeview Terrace), whose ruthless methods get results. But a power struggle develops between Brody, "H' and the terrorist, and what happens next is unbelievable and -ultimately-Unthinkable!
Unthinkable is a terrorism based thriller about American citizen purportedly turned terrorist who plants there nuclear bombs in three major cities within the U.S. Counter-terrorism FBI special agent in charge Helen Brody and her team become involved when the terrorist Steven Arthur Younger's face appears all over the news in connection with the shooting death of a police officer. When Younger is apprehended Brody and her team are brought to his location in preparation for response once the location of the devices is ascertained. With time being of the essence a specialist in interrogative techniques who goes by the code name H is brought in. H is known to be brutal and ruthless but successful in obtaining information from prisoners. Once H begins working Brody has a problem with his techniques which involves various forms of physical and subsequently mental torture. It would seem as though there are no limits to how far he will go. This puts the two at odds as they attempt to work together to stop the impending cataclysm. Neither fails to comprehend the depths of the scheme that is before them nor the craftiness of its inventor. The only way for them to succeed in learning the truth is to delve into interrogation territory that belies the imagination.
This appears to be a direct to video affair that didn't strike me as offering much based on the trailer I'd seen. My impressions were solidified after watching it. The premise is obviously nothing new but that isn't the problem. The plot is straight forward enough and establishes a protagonist in Brody and a villain in Younger. It throws in a third central character in H and fails to clearly define which camp he is in. I didn't have a problem with that since I think it was intentional and worked within the context of the plot. The real problem is that script takes too long to establish the story's focus which one would think should revolve around the terrorist's motives and the seriousness of the threat. Instead it muddies the water by introducing us to H with a ridiculous opening segment that winds up having nothing to do with anything that comes later. There are several secondary characters that are brought into the fold early but are never seen again. Brody is meant to be a strong character but comes across as ambivalent, insecure and whiney. It is tough to feel anything but sympathy for Younger since he spends three quarters of the film being tortured and we aren't sure what his motives are or if he fact is who he says he is. By the time this comes to light we have been desensitized by the sadistic scenes of torture, the incoherent nature of the story, and the banality of the incessant back and forth between H, and Brody regarding the right or wrong concerning Younger's treatment.
The ending was unsatisfying and failed to draw the film's already weak elements together. It is a shame because I thought that based upon the cast this had excellent potential. As it turned out Michael Sheen's performance was worthy of note but not enough to keep this afloat. While the film invokes provocative questions related to the use of torture as an effective tool or not it's too uneven and muddled to be effective. Unthinkable wound up being a disappointing film that didn't impress me as being the most suspenseful thriller of the year as described in the synopsis on the disc's back cover. Sony has included the original (which I watched) and an extended version of the film which adds about two minutes to the original's runtime.
The rating is for strong bloody violence, torture, and language.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
Unthinkable comes to Blu-ray from Sony Pictures featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 26 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 3.3 Mbps.
This a solid video presentation that offers excellent refinement during close ups and discernibly crisp definition within objects during mid level camera pans. The color range sets the film's thematic tone and has a reserved aesthetic that rarely offers bright, eye catching hues. Rendering is clean and depth is appropriate. Fleshtones keep pace with the look of the rest of the film and have a balmy but natural texture. Spot on contrast yielded crisp, bright whites and blacks were stable but slightly elevated which leaves them appearing less dynamic and occasionally flat. I didn't see this as a problem based upon the visual style of the film. Other than some minor aliasing that was visible during a wide angle pan of the buildings in the NYC skyline I saw no overt signs of video related artifacts or anomalies.
The DTS-HD MA 5.1 surround mix features dialogue that is full bodied with defining tonal characteristics and prominent soundstage position. High level detail is readily apparent as subtle nuance and low level detail under the audio's surface was audible and articulated. Surround activity isn't abundant however the entire surround platform is utilized to enrich musicality and render effective directional/spatial effects that enhance dimension. Dynamic range and low frequency effects appropriately augment the recording's elements but rarely attained levels that are substantially palpable.
This title includes Sony's new Movie IQ feature which requires a BD-Live connection and allows fans the option of viewing continuously updated details on the cast and crew and to explore relevant trivia such as production facts, music, and soundtrack information which are tied into scenes in the movie.
- Extended version of the film
- Audio commentary with director Gregor Jordan
- (HD) Previews - Harry Brown, The Square, Chole, The Road, Wild things: Foursome, The Runaways, The last station
- BD-Live enabled
Unthinkable has good potential as it invokes provocative questions related to the use of torture as an effective tool in times of crisis but ultimately it suffers from an uneven and muddled plot that leaves it a below average thriller that I found disappointing. It comes to Blu-ray Disc from Sony featuring solid audio/video quality and includes an extended version of the film, Sony's MovieIQ feature, and a decent audio commentary by director Gregor Jordan. If you go in with low expectations it is worth the price of a rental.
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