Spy Game Blu-ray Review
PictureSpy Game comes presented with a pristine 1080p High Definition transfer in the movie's original theatrical 2.35:1 widescreen aspect ratio. Detail is excellent throughout, with absolute clarity, no softness (even on Redford's aging face, where you can see all the lines) and no signs of any kind of print damage whatsoever. The colour scheme is well represented at all times, and Tony Scott's style comes across vividly. 'Nam gets a nice sepia desaturation, blanketed in what seems like an eternal sunset, Germany looking cold and bleak and the streets of wartorn Beirut looking dirty and ravaged by explosions. Blacks are solid throughout and make for excellent shadowing and the fiery explosions come across in glorious 3D. Whilst not noticeably different from the previous HD-DVD release, it is far superior to the DVD equivalent and still marks one of the better High Definition video presentations that I have come across.
SoundTo accompany this movie, which has a particularly lively soundtrack, we get a distinct upgrade from the DVD's (and HD-DVD's) standard Dolby Digital 5.1 mix in the shape of a clearly superior DTS-HD Master Lossless audio track. Dialogue is clear and coherent throughout, mainly presented across the fronts and centre. Effects range from the opening prison bustle to numerous helicopter and car-related noises, crashes and the like, with a couple of noteworthy LFE offerings in the form of firefights and explosions (like the massive building demolition). The score is still the most standout aspect of the track (and as memorable as some of Scott's other notable scores, e.g. Man on Fire), with frantic, fast paced and heavily beat-laden musical number (occasionally laced with ethnic accompaniment to give it that authentic edge in the foreign locations), which sometimes dips into more orchestrally-orientated contemplative moments. It is certainly at its best when firing out beats as fast paced as Tony Scott's frenetic direction warrants and overall this marks a superior representation of an already excellent soundtrack.
ExtrasUnfortunately all we get in the way of Extras are those that accompanied the original DVD release and subsequent HD-DVD release. Thankfully these were already quite plentiful. First up there's a Full-Length Audio Commentary with the Director Tony Scott. He's always been good on his Commentaries and this is no exception. We also get a Full Length Audio Commentary by the Producers which is slightly more dry. Then there's Clandestine Ops: A Unique Viewing Experience that puts you in control. Control of what? you may ask. Well, it's like that old White Rabbit Feature on the Matrix, whereby you can watch the movie and just to relevant Behind the Scenes stuff as and when the prompts come up. It also prompts for Alternate Versions of some of the scenes you encounter. We get separate subsections for Deleted and Alternate Scenes, all available with optional Director's Commentary. There are a couple of interesting additions, including a scene which gives more background into the relationship between Redford's and Catherine McCormack's characters, which should have been left in, and they mark quite unusual Deleted Scenes in that they are generally good. There's also an Alternate Ending which does little but add a couple of lines of dialogue, change the scoring dramatically (and in a bad way) and adding on a change in direction that Redford takes at the very end of the movie - literally.
The Script-to-Storyboard Featurette focuses on Tony Scott's unique Filmmaking Process and has plenty of split-screen footage showing how close they were. The Director Tony Scott narrates the unfolding images. Then there's Requirements for CIA acceptance, which is an Interactive Test that purportedly tells you whether or not you have what it takes to become a CIA operative. It basically gives a long list of what you need on your CV to make it into the CIA. Finally we get the Theatrical Trailer, which has some of the best lines in it (cut from the movie and not apparent in any of the Deleted Scenes), including plenty more banter and repartee between Redford and Pitt.
VerdictSpy Game is one of those rare intelligent action thrillers, packed with tension and suspense, with superior story-telling, a razor-sharp script (laced with clever one-liners) and some superb characters portrayed by quality acting talent, led by the outstanding Robert Redford himself. This Blu-ray release boasts the best video and audio that we have ever had for this movie, as well as all of the decent extras that we have previously encountered. It is not only a recommended purchase for those who have not encountered the movie, but it is also a recommended upgrade for fans who already have the DVD. Top notch.
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