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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze


Fifty Dead Men Walking [Blu-ray]


(Kari Skogland, 2008)



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: HandMade Films

Video: Phase 4 Films



Region: FREE! (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:57:41.304

Disc Size: 24,718,654,475 bytes

Feature Size: 19,505,811,456 bytes

Video Bitrate: 18.92 Mbps

Chapters: 13

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: January 5th, 2010



Aspect ratio: 1.78:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



DTS-HD Master Audio English 1887 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1887 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)



English (SDH), none



• Deleted Scenes (8:36)

• Behind the Scenes Footage (32:46)

• Theatrical trailer





Description: Inspired by Martin McGartland's shocking real life story, Martin is a young lad from West Belfast in the late 1980s who is recruited by the British police to spy on the IRA. He works his way up the ranks as a volunteer for the IRA whilst feeding information to his British handler and saves lives in the process; until one day he is exposed, captured and tortured to within an inch of his life. He escapes dramatically by throwing himself from a tower block window and is still in hiding today.


Belfast hoodlum Martin (Jim Sturgess) is recruited by a British agent (Ben Kingsley) to infiltrate the IRA during the height of the Northern Irish conflict and quickly becomes embroiled in a dangerous game that could cost him his life if his secret is found out. As other informers are brutally murdered, Martin starts to look for a way out, but his handler urges him to stay undercover in this taut action packed thriller based on a true story.



The Film:

The performance of Jim Sturgess as McGartland helps place his decision into the day-by-day process of acting on it. He meets clandestinely with Fergus, rises in the trust of the IRA, is able to use information he gets from Fergus to enhance his position. The two men become not friends, exactly, but mutually dependent, and as the net grows tighter toward the end, their dependence takes on an urgent desperation.

The writer and director is Kari Skogland, a young Canadian whose previous film, “The Stone Angel” (2007), could not be more different. It stars Ellen Burstyn as an old lady who runs away from the children who want to place her in a nursing home. In this film, Skogland, as Kathryn Bigelow does in “The Hurt Locker,” demolishes the notion that women can’t direct action.

This movie is based on real events, and a book written by McGartland and Nicholas Davies. It presents the usual disclaimers that “some of the events, characters and scenes in the film have been changed.” And McGartland himself has made a statement from hiding that he doesn’t endorse the film and it was “inspired by,” not “adapted from,” the book. Does this reflect his hope that the IRA won’t take it personally? Setting entirely aside the accuracy of the film, the IRA still has him marked for death, and indeed there was an attempt on his life in Canada 10 years after he fled. He’s still out there somewhere.

Excerpt from Roger Ebert at the Chicago Sun-Times located HERE



Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were ripped directly from the Blu-ray disc.

50 Dead Men Walking looks like a modest but reasonably competent transfer to Blu-ray from Phase 4 Films. It raises to a more remarkable level thanks to Jonathan Freeman's stunning cinematography of the Northern Ireland coast. This is only single-layered with the feature taking up less than 20 Gig. Contrast is a little suspect at times and although it looks like boosting - it may be more the production lighting. Skin tones seem true but aside from the Irish countryside and coast, nothing is dramatically dimensional or sharp. There is both grain and noise keeping the image less textured and fairly flat. It's no 'demo' but supports the film for a reasonable HD presentation.















Audio :

Like the image it is a modest DTS-HD Master 5.1 track at 1887 kbps. There is plenty of aggression in the track and it separates well to some degree. Bass and high-end don't reach definitive levels but again the film is supported with moderate range and depth. The box states there are Spanish subtitles offered as well as English - but I could only find the latter. My Momitsu has identified it as being a region FREE disc playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.




Extras :

There is about 40-minutes of HD B-roll stuff including deleted scenes and some behind the camera stuff. There is no real discussion or information imparted - it's all kind of slapped on. There is also a trailer and some Previews.



People, not surprisingly, have complained about the political motivations of the film. I don't know about that - I was entertained. I am not sure how it compares to the book but I found it a good, if brutally violent, thriller/adventure. The progressive Blu-ray may not knock your socks off, but it appears to be the best you can get for a home theater presentation. The extremely fair price, presently less than $13, makes it viable purchase consideration. Strangely the single-disc DVD HERE is almost double that cost. Get the Blu-ray instead.


Gary Tooze

December 18th, 2009




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








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