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  Directed by
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  Starring
  Specs
  • Widescreen 1.66:1
  Languages
  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • English: Dolby Digital Stereo
  Subtitles
  • None
  Extras
  • Theatrical trailer
  • Cast/crew biographies
  • Animated menus

Diplomatic Siege

Universal/Universal . R4 . COLOR . 94 mins . M15+ . PAL

  Feature
Contract

This movie wasn't made all that long ago (1999), but I never saw it at the cinemas, nor do I recollect even hearing about a theatrical release (perhaps I missed it?). It has now appeared on region 4 DVD.

It all starts when computer expert, Steve Mitchell (Peter Weller) is sent to the embassy to disarm a nuclear bomb that has secretly remained in the US embassy in Bucharest since the cold war. Erica Long (Daryl Hannah) is also there to help with this process. While there, a Serbian terrorist group takes over the embassy, and a hostage drama that ensues. Our computer geeks, Die-Hard style, manage to evade capture and cause grief for the terrorists. The Pentagon gets involved when they fear the terrorists have control of the nuke, and send General Swain (Tom Berenger) in to end the crisis.

The movie is a fair, no brain, weak plot, action/thriller. It has several pointless sub-plots (with Mitchell's son for example), and several attempts at plot twists which are weak and not really all that twisty! Even some of the elements like the fact that the main terrorist leader was in the same class as Swain in military school are kind of pointless. The movie suffers a lot of problems with trying too hard to make an interesting story, yet remains excessively predictable.

  Video
Contract

The video quality is pretty poor. There are excessive MPEG artefacts all over the movie. These are especially obvious at the start of the film, resulting in it being on your mind throughout and therefore also being painfully obvious whenever it occurs. Towards the latter stages of the film, these became less frequent, and the story line started to distract from some of the video issues. There is a fair amount of film grain, although it is not extraordinarily offensive or distracting. It is presented in 16x9 ratio.

  Audio
Contract

Audio quality though, was a very nice surprise. The Dolby 5.1 track makes copious use of the surround channels for background music, scene setting, and of course gunfire and explosions. It was indeed refreshing not to just hear the surrounds come in to use on special occasions only. The ambient music in the various "tense" scenes really made a difference to the feel of the movie. I can attribute a fair proportion of the feel of this movie to it's soundtrack, as the plot definitely was not holding it all together. There is also a 2 channel Dolby track, which I did not try for more than a few minutes, but seemed adequate. I'd have preferred to have only a 5.1 track and let the DVD player down sample to a 2 track, which may have left enough room on the DVD to remove some of the MPEG issues in the video.

  Extras
Contract

There are only 2 extras, a theatrical trailer and some cast bios. The bios cover the three main "name" players, ie. Weller, Hannah and Berenger, and are comprehensive enough at 3-4 pages each. The DVD has animated menus, which are a nice touch. There are no subtitles, which I though of as odd.

  Overall  
Contract

Overall, the movie is kind of weak. I'd not buy it unless I was a particular fan of one of the players, and even then, Weller is the only really powerful character in it. Berenger seems to be just tacked in there, and Hannah is a very strange character whose role is kind of wayward. This is a good "weekly" renter, as I'd probably not want to hire this one as an overnight blockbuster. Perhaps it's just that this movie never really hit the target as a big action movie (not enough stuff blowing up), or as a thriller (plot was predictable, and the twists weak).

NOTE: I reviewed this DVD on a test sample DVD direct from Pacific Mirror Image. I can only assume that this was the same as what was released for final pressing.


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      And I quote...
    "All the hallmarks of a good action/thriller, but....."
    - Rob Pascale
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Pioneer DV-717 Gold
    • Projector:
          Toshiba TLP450 LCD Projector
    • Receiver:
          Denon AVR-3300
    • Speakers:
          Krix Euphonix
    • Centre Speaker:
          Krix Centrix
    • Surrounds:
          Mission Dipoles
    • Subwoofer:
          Aaron SUB-240
    • Audio Cables:
          Harmony Gold Coax
    • Video Cables:
          standard s-video
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