"Unthinkable" Blu-ray Review
June 10, 2010 by Zach Demeter
With even past great studios like MGM now facing extinction, it’s no wonder that newer film production companies have an even more difficult time getting started. Such is the case with Unthinkable’s original production company, as the (fairly) star-studded piece was eventually forced to leak out online via various unscrupulous methods before it even saw its eventual direct-to-video release. While the film definitely has a fair amount of admirable qualities, it seems as if the film’s production was fraught not only with budget constraints but also with editorial ones as two different endings to the film ended up being made, with the less desirable of the two being the first that many saw (assuming they pirated it online, anyway).
The most suspenseful thriller of the year explores just how far we will go to protect ourselves and our country. When a nuclear expert-turned-extremist (Michael Sheen, "Underworld") plants devices in three separate cities, the country's counter-terrorism force springs into action and captures him. But the location of his bombs remains a mystery. With time running out, FBI agent Helen Brody (Carrie-Anne Moss, "Disturbia") agrees to work alongside a mysterious interrogator known only as "H" (Samuel L. Jackson, "Lakeview Terrace), whose ruthless methods get results. But a power struggle develops between Brody, "H' and the terrorist, and what happens next is unbelievable and -ultimately-Unthinkable!
Thankfully those of us who play it legal can find both of the endings on this Blu-ray release (and, I assume, the DVD release as well), although truthfully speaking they’re rather insignificant when you take a look at the whole picture that this film attempts to paint. It was obviously marketed as a violent, torture-porn style release, but truth be told I really didn’t find any of the methods used in the film all that surprising (ok, there was one method but that was more just straight up murder than anything). Granted I’ve been inoculated thanks to 24, but still—I would’ve thought that a film with a fairly strong cast would’ve been able to bring it all together into something truly devastating…but nope. It’s definitely an interesting film, but it really doesn’t feel like it was executed to the fullest extent as it genuinely feels like a direct-to-video film in the end.
I will remark again that the cast was pretty amazing. Jackson gave a brilliant performance, as did Moss even though she was rather underutilized in the film for the most part. The real shiner here, however, is Michael Sheen. Even though he essentially only has to play a torture victim for the duration of the film, there was one particularly strong, emotional outburst that he unleashes upon Moss’s character towards the end of the film that was really quite devastating. While I was never really clear about his motives for placing bombs around the US, I nevertheless believed that he had real motives to do it…or at least believed that he believed he had motives to do it. It’s definitely a compelling film in that regard, but other than that it is a pretty shallow expedition.
The biggest problem with the film was just the low-budget feel of it. There was only ever a few sets used in the film and when we expanded to an abandoned rooftop coupled with a subsequent explosion…it just looked very, very fake. Granted, I know it likely had a very constrained budget but in my mind they should’ve found ways to work with it rather than attempt to cram some kind of haphazard visual effects into the mix. On the other hand I did enjoy the solidarity that the one bunker/building set offered, as it really helped make it feel as if this torture chamber really was the only thing that existed at any given time, so there was even less hope for Sheen’s character to survive.
I suppose the film was supposed to stir up some general feelings towards torture or what is the moral thing to do in a situation like the one presented in the film, but honestly…I think my watching of 24 for eight seasons just made me not care about it anymore. It’s kind of a too-little-too-late film for me, although it did make me think that this is kind of what the eventual 24 movie would be like (just with better dialogue and effects work, I hope). Overall it’s a solid film worth a Rental just for the actors, but it sadly didn’t leave me remembering much about it, other than the fact that Brandon Routh apparently can’t catch a damn break as his screen time in this film lasted about as long as his tenure as Superman.
Sony brings the movie to Blu-ray in a standard Elite Blu-ray case with the usual assortment of inserts. Nothing fancy about the exterior of the packaging…nor the interior or menu system as it’s all pretty generic and forgettable.
Video is an AVC encoded affair and even given its low budget on the special effects and set areas, the video is no slouch. Some really incredible detail is seen here, particularly in one of the segments where Sheen’s character is bleeding from his mouth and it gets all gummed up in his beard—disgusting to look at I assure you, but it looks quite exceptional. The DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix is a bit unnecessary for this film as its very dialogue driven, but the Graeme Revell score does sound quite exceptional with a fair amount of surround and LFE usage.
movieIQ™+sync and BD-Live connect you to real-time information on the cast, music, trivia and more while watching the movie!
Engaging Commentary with Director Gregor Jordan
Includes Extended Version of the film with Alternate Ending
The aforementioned alternate ending (or the original ending…whichever is the alternate and what is the original I’m not totally sure) with the showing of a bomb and then a cut to the credits was pretty annoying, but as I said neither of the endings given here really make much of a difference overall (one is just less stupid than the other). The commentary with Jordan is pretty good, although I find it odd that Sony had to put it down as “engaging”—it is at times, but just an odd descriptor to add to the packaging.
Overall a release worth a Rental and nothing more.
Unthinkable arrives on Blu-ray and DVD on June 15th.