'The Statement' DVD Review ** 070805

The Work = **
I’m sure 'The Statement' looked good on paper. I think perhaps, if another director handled it the film could have been a suspenseful, dark, thriller. Watching the film as it is, much of it played like a weak made for TV movie. It is a strange thing; this film has a knockout cast, a skilled director, and what I’m guessing was a solid script. Sometimes all the pieces are there and they just don’t come together in the right way.

One problem may have been that director Norman Jewison had not directed a thriller in quite some time. This film needed someone like say John Frankenheimer working in his prime. Jewison handles the actors well, getting solid performances from them but not so much with the action and the suspense. 'The Statement' plays rather slow and it is tough to get engaged with what is on screen.

The story is a would-be spy, thriller about a former Vichy Regime soldier Pierre Brossard(Michael Caine) who committed war crimes during World War 2. In the film we see a young Brossard (voiced by but not acted by Caine) commit the crimes under Nazi supervision in a brief opening black and white sequence. The rest of the film follows Caine acting as Brossard. He is an aging man slowly giving away to the passage of time. Good thing for him he still has got some of the old deadly skills, if you know what I mean.

It is a good thing because Jewish hit men are hired to find and kill the elderly Brossard who has gone into hiding. Meanwhile, Colonal Roux (Jeremy Northam) and Annemari Livi (Tilda Swinton) are also on the trail of Brossard but they want to bring him to justice and unravel the mystery of how he has been able to hide for so long. It is a race against time, or elderly stroll against time, as the case may be, to see who can get to Brossard first. Will it be the law? Will it be the hit men? Will you fall asleep before you find out the answer?

Ok, so maybe I am exaggerating. What 'The Statement' really lacks is a sense of urgency. Say what you will about those Tom Clancy inspired flicks, like 'The Hunt for Red October', 'Clear and Present Danger', etc but those films, if nothing else, made the events seem urgent. They built, with some exceptions, suspense based largely on a sense of impending danger. The events had to fly by because time was running out. Here, with 'The Statement', there just isn’t that sense of urgency. The cast is, as I said, solid and do what they can. They all give good performances but it just didn’t make this film entertaining for me.

DVD = ***

The Look
'The Statement' gets an ok transfer. The image did look soft to me but I didn’t notice any digital artifacts. The film is presented in the aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and is in anamorphic widescreen.

The Sound
The DVD has a Dolby Digital 5.1 Stereo track. The DVD also has English subtitles. The audio track sounded ok to me, although some of the sound effects sounded a bit weak. Still, it does its job.

The Bonus
Woopsy’! So here we go. The features here are essentially what make me feel guilty about not liking this one. There is a short but good interview with Michael Caine. The man has had a long career and is always interesting to listen to. There is an interview with Jewison that is also interesting, a making of featurette, deleted scenes and a commentary by Jewison. The director gives a great commentary track that was, sadly more entertaining than the film. He talks about many details of the production and covers a variety of topics. He clearly likes the film and liked who he worked with on it. Honestly I felt bad for not enjoying the film more.

All Together = **
Sigh, I really wanted to like this one but just can’t recommend it. If you do enjoy 'The Statement' then the DVD will be an easy purchase as it has some great features. If you are a fan of the cast and crew you may want to try renting this one first. I am a fans of almost all of the leads and like much of Norman Jewison’s work but I just can’t recommend 'The Statement'.


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