Red Blu-ray Review
‘RED’ explodes on to Region A locked Blu-ray with a very good looking 1080p AVC/MPEG-4 transfer, framed in the widescreen 2.40:1 aspect ratio. Colours are nice and strong, with a slightly contrasty edge to skin stones. We get deep blacks in the night shots and bright oranges in the explosions. As you’d expect from such a recent source, the image looks very clean. Maybe a bit too clean and clinical as the very faint hint of grain only just lends it the filmic look that we all know and love. All the same, it’s a perfectly fine looking transfer. There’s detail in the shadows and bright whites are kept under control, like Helen’s white evening gown. Close ups look sharp as a tack and the cameraman obviously resisted the urge to use soft focus filters in camera to hide the look of experience. A very acceptable transfer, and nothing really to complain about but we’ve seen so many stonking good transfers over the last year that it takes something really special to stand out from the crowd.
If the picture quality on ‘RED’ isn’t really particularly spectactular, then the DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix more than makes up for it. The soundtrack is dynamic and possesses great range, from some clear though softly spoken dialogue to house shaking gunfire and explosions. There is a depth and crispness to the gunshots, while the explosions deliver a distinct ‘crump’ that you feel in your chest through some impressive subwoofer action. The front soundstage makes a great playground for discrete effects and dialogue, while the surrounds are used well for ambience and to help envelope you in Christopher Beck’s music score. Don’t make the mistake of winding up the volume so you can hear the dialogue at reference level or you’ll blow your speakers when the cast let rip with their machine guns. Your neighbours probably won’t bless you either.
Audio Commentary – Here we have a rather unusual commentary as it’s not by the director or stars but by retired CIA field officer Robert Baer, who served as an advisor on the film. Instead of giving us the usual movie biz take on the film, he focuses on the CIA content and how accurately they are represented. He tells us what looks authentic in the movie and what isn't, gives us tips on spying, and fleshes it out with some of his own experiences in the field. We hear his views on disguises, gadgets, and role-playing as well as the rise of women in the CIA. If you’re fascinated by the world of espionage, then this will be your cup of tea - or Vodka Martini, shaken not stirred.
Deleted Scenes (HD, 9 minutes) – We’re presented with 10 deleted/extended scenes that don't offer much except a few extra pieces of action with optional comedy. There’s only one scene of real interest but its inclusion would have lent a different angle to the film – so that’s probably why it was cut. Nothing really amazing here.
Access: Red – This ‘pop up’ feature is more suited to fans of the movie than the audio commentary as while the film plays, both written text relating to various aspects of 'Red' as well as mini featurettes pop up in their own windows under such headings as "Did You Know?," "Damage Control," "Retired Hall of Fame," "CIA Exposed," "Cast Insights," and "Expert Intel." There are also pop-up audio ‘vox pops’ from ex-CIA agent Baer, taken from his full-length commentary. The featurettes praise Bruce Willis, the great cast and director Robert Schwentke as well as cover the film's locations, characters, fights, and costumes. We see the actors' firearms training, while the CIA featurettes use animation to explain the agency's tactics, famous missions, and means of surveillance. There’s a navigation bar on the screen bottom left which allows you to choose which features you'd like to view, while a clock tells you when the next pop-up will be appearing on screen. This is pretty clever stuff and makes watching the movie more interactive – for those with the attention span of a butterfly.
The very recent ‘RED’ makes its appearance on American Region A locked Blu-ray with a good looking 1080p AVC/MPEG-4 encoded transfer, framed in the widescreen 2.40:1 aspect ratio. Good strong colours, deep blacks and healthy contrast abound in this sharp image from a very clean source print. The DTS-HD MA 5.1 surround audio puts the picture in the shade when it comes to impact though, as gunfire and explosions rip the listening room apart in an enveloping mix with great range. An audio commentary from the retired CIA man who acted as advisor on the movie, some deleted scenes and a flashy interactive feature make up the bonus materials. The movie itself is an entertaining though undemanding tale of a retired CIA man who suddenly becomes a target, so he pulls in his former team to help him get to the bottom of it. Bruce Willis, Helen Mirren, Morgan Freeman, John Malkovich, Brian Cox and Richard Dreyfuss star in this amusing and entertaining, though uninvolving, action comedy vehicle.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £21.69
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