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A view on Blu-ray and DVD video by Leonard Norwitz

The Code [Blu-ray]

(aka "Thick as Thieves")

 

(Mimi Leder, 2008)

 

 

 

 

 

Review by Leonard Norwitz

 

Studio:

Theatrical: Millennium Films & Equity Pictures

Blu-ray: First Look Studios

 

Disc:

Region: A

Runtime: 104 min

Chapters: 10

Size: 25 GB

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: June 23rd, 2009

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 2.35:1

Resolution: 1080p

Video codec: AVC

 

Audio:

English Dolby TrueHD 5.1; English Dolby Digital 2.0

 

Subtitles:

English SDH & Spanish

 

Extras:

• 7 Cast and Crew Interviews - in 480p (7:54)

• Behind the Scenes – 480p (16:21)

 

 

The Film: 5
Not long into the movie, Alexandra (Radha Mitchell) advises Gabriel (Antonio Banderas) to "Assume nothing." And more than once Ripley (Morgan Freeman) cautions Gabriel to stay away from her. Or else, what? Or else she could get hurt, we soon find out. Since we, the audience, have been instructed by some of the most overused clichés in the business by an utterly unconvincing actress on the one hand and God on the other, we have to assume that nothing is what it seems. Again. It's not enough that this familiar goulash of deliberate misdirections is made so obvious in an unrelenting series of not very credible scenes, it's that by the time the masks come off, all the way off, we don't really care.

Set against a backdrop of the Russian mafia in New York City – and do not for one moment confuse this movie with Cronenberg's Eastern Promises – master art thief, Keith Ripley, solicits up and coming jewel thief Gabriel Martin to partner up in a heist of two Faberge eggs from Romanovs – an impossible job even if these guys were Tom Cruise twice over. But before they can say "nyet" the big bad Russians kidnap Ripley's goddaughter and threaten to kill her if they do not bring their bounty to them. Meanwhile the local police burglary unit, headed by Lt. Weber (Robert Forster) who has long wanted to catch Ripley with the goods, is headed off at the pass by the FBI who claim they have interests of their own in this case.

 


 

Image: 9/9
The first number indicates a relative level of excellence compared to other Blu-ray video discs on a ten-point scale. The second number places this image along the full range of DVD and Blu-ray discs.

The high definition for The Code is better than the movie deserves. I found nothing to complain about: no edge enhancement, dirt, artifacts. Color seemed proper, asd shadow detail was never lacking. There is a little less resolution than the best of them, but otherwise, the image is very good, indeed. Its dynamic bit rate settles mostly in the low 20s, with spikes well into the mid 30s.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio & Music: 7/6
The case lists no uncompressed audio track! This is in error. The Dolby TrueHD mix is quite good, though I didn't always feel it panned and scanned exactly with the action. Dialogue is crisp. The effects, especially the clatter of the subway train and deep bass, are visceral. Moorish flamenco rhythms laced with Slavic undertones appear in the music score along with Banderas, giving us some idea of the paucity of imagination that besets this film.

 

 

 

Operations: 5
It's unusual to find a menu without chapters, but here it is. On the other hand, it's nice to see a Play All function of the Cast Interviews, especially since they are so brief. The interviews can be skipped through by way of your remote's chapter advance. Much of the information on the back cover is too small to read without a magnifying glass – an increasing trend.

 

Extras: 3
There are a couple of EPK throwaways. The cast interviews are especially unworthy of the name.
 

 

 

Bottom line: 5
Known by its much better international title, Thick as Thieves, characters in The Code quotes famous heist films (Topkapi, Rififi) but the movie doesn't come remotely close to their level of panache and suspense. The Blu-ray image is very good, and the sound is decent. Extra features are slim. The movie will have its U.S. premiere with its release on video.

Leonard Norwitz
June 21st, 2009

 

 

 

 


 

About the Reviewer: I first noticed that some movies were actually "films" back around 1960 when I saw Seven Samurai (in the then popular truncated version), La Strada and The Third Man for the first time. American classics were a later and happy discovery.

My earliest teacher in Aesthetics was Alexander Sesonske, who encouraged the comparison of unlike objects. He opened my mind to the study of art in a broader sense, rather than of technique or the gratification of instantaneous events. My take on video, or audio for that matter – about which I feel more competent – is not particularly technical. Rather it is aesthetic, perceptual, psychological and strongly influenced by temporal considerations in much the same way as music. I hope you will find my musings entertaining and informative, fun, interactive and very much a work in progress.


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