"Incendiary" Blu-ray Review
April 29, 2009 by Zach Demeter
From the directory of Bridget Jones Diary comes the film Incendiary, adapted from the 2005 novel of the same name. Despite starring big name talent like Michelle Williams and Ewan McGregor, the film never saw a wide release and, in fact, never even saw a U.S. theatrical release. Perhaps due to the terrorist themes it deals with, the market didn’t feel comfortable portraying such a film in U.S. theaters…but while the film is sparked from a violent and brutal (and fictional) attack, the crutch of the film is really something else entirely.
London is rocked by a shocking terrorist bombing in this dramatic thriller starring Michelle Williams (Brokeback Mountain, Deception) and Ewan McGregor, (Trainspotting, Star Wars I-III). Williams delivers a riveting and heart-felt performance as a young wife and mother who suffers a devastating loss in the attack...which occurs while she's meeting her secret lover (McGregor). Wracked with guilt and trying to piece her shattered life back together, she becomes embroiled in the police investigation of the attack - and discovers that the authorities will do anything to cover up the terrifying truth behind it.
I’m not entirely sure where Ewan McGregor’s career took a turn—after the Star Wars films he seems to have dropped off of the theatrical map (aside from the upcoming Da Vinci Code sequel) and instead participated only in films that never seen domestic releases, but, rather, either go straight-to-video or are released only overseas (although he certainly has a full roster of films in development…perhaps he just doesn’t have to bother with much after the cash windfall from the Star Wars prequels). So it’s not really all that surprising me to see him in, yet again, another film that certainly looks good, but really turned out to be nothing more than a very mediocre film that has little in it to keep the audience going for the hundred minute run time.
Incendiary certainly isn’t a bad film by any means, but it is set up like another sordid love affair movie with a terrorist subplot that eventually merges together to form the dramatic middle portion of the film. I will say that the films rather graphic sex scene (the first thing the “R” rating denotes is “A Strong Sex Scene”…and it wasn’t kidding) merging straight into the explosion really was quite a brilliant piece of directing, as although you could sense it was coming, for it to happen during the actual scene in question is…just, to be completely cliché, “shocking.” It really set the film up to be a very smartly directed and paced piece of storytelling, but instead after that it delved into a bunch of research and exploration of the characters feelings.
Again, the film isn’t particularly horrible and it’s the characters themselves that are so interesting in it, but the plot itself could have definitely used some work. While I can see why it didn’t see a theatrical release in the US (I’m only speculating, of course, but the whole terrorist attack thing in a public area full of people is just not a marketable area in US theaters at this point. That and it took place entirely in the UK, so there I can definitely see where marketing this one would have been difficult. Although, again, this is all speculation on my part and there is next to nothing about this film online, so I’ve no idea what the real reasons were), it really is an emotional and moving film, but at the same time it’s hard to really sympathize with some of the characters. Not so much that the whole having an affair thing is that shocking anymore, but the way it was paired with the characters and the tragedy was really quite an original spin on things. Tragic, yes, but if nothing else I can see what the film was trying to accomplish, what with its story of forgiveness and hope.
It’s hard to say too much about this film; because it was neither great nor good…it was simply in the middle. While it had one riveting plot point, the rest of the film felt wholly unoriginal…like a three course dinner whose only enjoyable portion was the steak, while the salad and baked potato were soggy and undercooked. It’s really a shame too, as the acting caliber is definitely there, as is the directing and cinematography…it was just something about the story that never really clicked and went from being eerily realistic and scary to something out of a typical soap opera.
Overall it’s a film worth seeing for the performances and in that regard is worth a Rental at the least. Definitely don’t just skip over it because you’ve never heard of it as, in this case, checking it out based solely on the talent involved will at least net you a fair film—just not one that will keep you enthralled for its run time.
Image Entertainment brings Incendiary to Blu-ray in a standard Elite Blu-ray case, complete with double sided insert and easy-to-navigate menus. Nothing about the presentation of this release is particularly amazing (and, in fact…it is quite bland, what with the over-use of blacks everywhere), but the AVC encoded 2.40:1 transfer does manage to impress. The sometimes grainy visuals of the film are matched by a crystal clear transfer that boasts plenty of detail within the moody, washed-out visuals of Incendiary’s world. The resulting chaos of the explosion at the stadium is brought to life and the surrounds from the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix kick in full blast, with after-explosions rocking the room and decent chatter in the surrounds. Sadly the rest of the film is pretty quiet and sits mostly in the front channels, but this isn’t the type of movie you want to really blast at an incredible volume anyway.
Extras include the Theatrical Trailer and Still Galleries and…yup, that’s it. There’s no commentary, no making-of, no nothin’. It’s barebones and the film itself rests on a single 25gb disc, so don’t expect anything else from this one except the movie (and then in that case don’t expect much from the movie either). Again, not a horrible film by any means, but certainly not one that’s all that riveting either. Still only worth a Rental.
Incendiary arrives on Blu-ray and DVD on May 5th.