H D - S E N S E I

A view on Hi-def DVDs by Gary W. Tooze

In the Line of Fire [Blu-ray]

(Wolfgang Petersen, 1993)



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Columbia Tri-Star

Blu-ray: Sony Home Pictures


Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC
Video resolution: 1080p
Aspect ratio: 2.40:1

English: Dolby TrueHD 5.1
French: Dolby TrueHD 5.1
Portuguese: Dolby TrueHD 5.1
Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1

English SDH, English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese (Simplified), Chinese (Traditional), Korean, Bahasa, Dutch, Arabic, Korean

• Commentary by director Wolfgang Petersen

• Featurette: "Showtime Special: Behind the Scenes with the Secret Service"

• Featurette: "How'd They Do That?"

• Featurette: "Catching the Counterfeiters"

• Documentary: "The Ultimate Sacrifice"

• Deleted Scenes

Disc: 50GB Blu-ray Disc

DVD Release Date: July 1st, 2008


Product Description: A gripping, gut-wrenching thriller that delivers suspense in almost unbearable doses, In the Line of Fire showcases Clint Eastwood at his finest. In a performance that won universal acclaim, Eastwood stars as Frank Horrigan, a veteran Secret Service agent haunted by his failure to protect John F. Kennedy from assassination. Thirty years later, he gets a chance to redeem himself when a brilliant psychopath threatens to kill the current president and take Horrigan with him. Taunting him by phone and tantalizing him with clues, the assassin (John Malkovich) lures Horrigan into an electrifying battle of wits and will that only one man can survive. Co-starring Rene Russo as Horrigan's risk-taking Field Chief, In the Line of Fire is a high-wire balancing act of searing suspense, explosive action and surprising romance.



The Film:

Thrillers are as good as their villains, and "In the Line of Fire" has a great one - a clever, slimy creep who insidiously burrows his way into the psyche of the hero, a veteran Secret Service agent named Horrigan (Clint Eastwood). The creep, who likes to play mind games with his opponents, makes a series of phone calls threatening to assassinate the president. He chooses Horrigan because he knows the agent still feels guilty about failing to save the life of John F. Kennedy 30 years ago.


In its broad outlines, "In the Line of Fire" has a story similar to many of Eastwood's Dirty Harry movies, in which a psycho killer plays games with the cop, who is ordered off the case and then continues as a free-lance, helped by a loyal partner. The movie even supplies a typical Eastwood sidekick, a woman agent played by Rene Russo, who is tough and capable, and able to fall in love.

Despite the familiar plot elements, however, "In the Line of Fire" is not a retread but a smart, tense, well-made thriller - Eastwood's best in the genre since "Tightrope" (1984). The director is Wolfgang Petersen ("Das Boot"), who is able to unwind the plot like clockwork while at the same time establishing the characters as surprisingly sympathetic.

Excerpt from Roger Ebert's Chicago Sun Times review located HERE





Image: NOTE: These captures were ripped directly from the Blu-ray disc. Very crisp image quality from Sony on this Blu-ray transfer. The final product is consistent and extremely impressive. Detail is at reference levels and considering this film will be 15 years old the results are very gratifying. The film has an abundance of dark scenes that are well represented without undue noise while contrast and muted colors seem perfect to my eye. I saw no flaws at all in In the Line of Fire and it looks very sexy at 1080P using MPEG-4 AVC compression. If all future films-to-Blu-ray looks this good we are in for some real treats. 













Audio & Music: Not a particularly dynamically separated Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track but nonetheless it sounds quite buoyant at times and holds together exceedingly well considering how far audio has come since this film was made. Three DUB options (including two TrueHD). Not Ennio Morricone's most memorable score it still has some of the maestro's earmark moments. It sounded subtly impacting on this Blu-ray. There are a host of subtitle options including English (SDH and standard) and appears to represent a region-free release.




Extras: The director commentary (2.0 channel stereo) seems to be the same one (duplicated) on the Special Edition from February of 2001... as are all the supplemental material (3 featurettes, a documentary and some poor quality deleted scenes). I don't want to minimize their value as all are quite viable and interesting. Petersen gives a decent commentary with help from another individual (DVD producer) and the extras total less than an hour but I enjoy supplements that include well-made TV documentaries and informative featurettes that are relevant to the subject material of the plot. The extras have some sub options - French, Portuguese, Spanish, Chinese or Dutch. 




Bottom line: A solid thriller and Clint is at his most cinematically charismatic. John Malkovich is a superb baddass and Rene Russo wasted as superfluous eye candy. I have a certain perverse thrill seeing Dylan McDermott 'get it'. I'd complain about the mirrored, and no new, extras but the old were very good - no reason to upgrade. The image can't have any detractors - it's worthy of superlatives and I doubt much more could be done with the competent audio. This is a good Blu-ray release - reminding me, for some reason, of the BRD of Crimson Tide. A respectable efficient Blu-ray transfer, an above-average film, at a decent price. Sold!   

Gary Tooze
June 24th, 2008






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About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 3500 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction. So be it, but film will always be my first love and I list my favorites on the old YMdb site now accessible HERE.  

Gary's Home Theatre:

60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

APC AV 1.5 kVA H Type Power Conditioner 120V

Gary W. Tooze