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  Directed by
  Starring
  Specs
  • Widescreen 2.35:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • Dual Layer (RSDL )
  Languages
  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  Subtitles
    English, French, Spanish
  Extras
  • Cast/crew biographies
  • Production notes

Absolute Power

Warner Bros./Warner Home Video . R4 . COLOR . 121 mins . M15+ . PAL

  Feature
Contract

The opening of the film is an absolute killer, and not the wicked sorta cool killer, but the one that makes you flip your wrists over. It’s long, it’s tedious and it’s very, very quiet. The opening is probably the worst offender of the darkness issues, as discussed in the video section later on, and it doesn’t help your attention span when you can’t see anything but a black screen. Jeez, I can turn the television off, save power and see the exact same thing! But anyway, it’s the start of the story, and it takes about 25 minutes to get there, introducing us to a thief, Luther Whitney (Eastwood), who is caught in a secured room during a robbery and witnesses a murder. OK, that’s bad enough in its own right, but things get worse; it was the president, played by Gene Hackman, who committed the murder, on one of his mistresses. President Alan Richmond (Hackman), and his team of secret service agents decide to cover up the murder, however Whitney is able to escape from the scene - after a pursuit - with the weapon, a letter opener. Richmond and his men discover Whitney’s knowledge and try to put the blame on a burglar in the house. But as any classic movie nut will know, it is difficult to catch a thief.

Thrillers are great. Pacing is good too, and in this reviewer’s opinion, this film is just lacking in that. Still, it may be worth a rent for its top-notch cast key crew. Performances are superb for all concerned and brilliantly cast, with each member bringing a unique and authentic performance to the project. However, at times the pacing of this traditional thriller were enough to drive this reviewer nutty and start looking at the cracks in the wall but, if you stick with it, the film ties up nicely, even if it is a tad slowly done. OK, suspend reality too because a few aspects of the film, such as the cover up and Whitney’s antics, are just over the top and rather unbelievable, detracting from the overall credibility of the piece. It’s a mixed bag, but for a night’s entertainment it’s worth a shot.

  Video
Contract

Presented in Absolute Power’s original theatrical aspect of 2.35:1, this Warner Region 4 NTSC transfer comes to us with an anamorphically enhanced transfer. On the whole things look great, however the biggest gripe is with sheer darkness of the film. Blacks definitely are solid, deep and dark, however shadow definition is at times absent and the image does appear to be lacking definition. Arguably it may just be scene setting, but there becomes a point where scene setting and utter black do become two totally different things. This dark point aside, things are generally pretty good, with nicely saturated colours and clearly defined edges without the sharp definitions of edge enhancement. Grain and film artefacts are barely a problem, with the odd minor film artefacts being the source of complaint here. Apart from the overly black sequences, detail is pretty nice with a clear image, however the lack of definition of the darker colours does hinder the transfer as even when watching this film at night in a darkened room on a nicely calibrated television, it is still too dark. Subtitles have been included and are easy to read and pretty accurate too.

  Audio
Contract

The solo Dolby Digital 5.1 English track doesn’t give us much choice in audio options, but why should it? What is on offer is a great example of a thriller-genre 5.1 track. Dialogue is clear from the centre channel, and surround speakers get plenty of discrete action to keep subtlists happy without going overboard. Likewise, the woofing box booms out at the appropriate places however is used more as additional depth rather than adding boominess to the soundtrack. What’s not to like here? A well-mixed 5.1 track, clear dialogue and decent bass levels – it’s all good!

  Extras
Contract

The static and standardised Warner menus are presented in an unenhanced full frame aspect of 1.33:1, and are well toned for the film, even if they are a generic format and do suffer some slight over-compression, especially around the edges of the text. From the 'Explore the Gallery' option we’re able to take a look at some cast and crew profiles which look at Clint Eastwood, Gene Hackman, Ed Harris, Laura Linney, Judy Davis, Scott Glenn, Dennis Haysbert, E.G. Marshall, William Goldman (screenplay) and Clint Eastwood again, this time as director. These are your usual promo-type profiles, giving a few sentences as an introduction before listing a bit of a filmography, which sadly are really out of date for a 2003 disc. The second option gives us a set of behind the scenes notes totalling nine pages with a rather large font and only a few sentences on each page. Overall, nothing terribly thrilling. Warner provide us with some recommendations too, displayed as a single static screen suggesting the films All the President's Men, Dirty Harry, The Pelican Brief and Sudden Impact if you enjoyed Absolute Power.

  Overall  
Contract

This NTSC issue with Warner is becoming more of a format choice than an issue, as things are looking pretty fine on this front, bar some hideous darkness issues. The accompanying 5.1 soundtrack is superb and the extras are well, umm, a bit of a waste but still informative for brief histories on the cast and crew. For fans of the film, the transfer is neat and sufficient and the film may be worth a rent if you have some patience and are in the mood for a thriller.


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      And I quote...
    "And I thought it said “Absolute Pleasure”..."
    - Martin Friedel
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Philips DVD 736K
    • TV:
          TEAC EU68-ST
    • Receiver:
          Sony HT-SL5
    • Speakers:
          Sony SS-MSP2
    • Centre Speaker:
          Sony SS-CNP2
    • Surrounds:
          Sony SS-MSP2
    • Subwoofer:
          Sony SA-WMSP3
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard Optical
    • Video Cables:
          standard s-video
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