Outside the Law comes to Region Free UK Blu-ray complete with a 1080p High Definition video transfer, presented in the movie’s original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1 widescreen. Detail is generally very good, despite the variable settings and era-spanning narrative, with clarity pervading throughout even the darkest of sequences. There is a hint of edge enhancement, but little DNR and certainly nothing that one could quantify as being overt softness; artifacting and ringing are also evident, but not in any form that massively detracts from your viewing pleasure. The colour scheme is indicative of the changing times and settings – the initial scenes in dusty, desert-based Algeria dominated by sun-bleached faded oranges and yellows, and the Parisian sequences split between the cold, dilapidated shanty-town slums and the bustling nightlife of the more prominent Paris streets, brought to life by warm streetlamps against the reasonably solid black night sky. Contrast is not quite perfect, and there’s certainly no 3D-pop to speak of, but, whilst this is far from demo quality material, it is certainly good enough to render this particular drama quite effectively on the home format.
On the aural front we get a decent enough DTS-HD Master Audio track in the original French language (with exceptions, as they obviously dip into Arabic too), complete with fixed English subtitles that are pretty accurate, and are presented within the frame of the movie image itself (for those of you with projectors). Dialogue comes across clearly and coherently throughout, dominating the frontal array wherever appropriate but, whilst you might assume that this is quite a dialogue-driven drama, there are a fair few more action-based sequences which bring the array to life and at least utilise some of what the format offers. In this respect, we get a boisterous Setif massacre early on – complete with thundering mounted machine-guns, which will give both the surrounds and the LFE channel a fair amount to play with – as well as numerous explosive or gun-based set-pieces peppered throughout, against providing LFE mayhem and surround dynamics, respectively. The score works for the piece, although never feels all that memorable – but it does give the surrounds yet more to do – and, overall, this is a solid offering, again not quite demo-quality, but closer to it than the video.
The disc comes with just a select few extras, but thankfully they are fairly good quality, even though none of them make up for the lack of Commentary.
First up, the most weighty offering is the near half-hour Making-Of Featurette (in French with English subtitles), which has the Director, along with his primary cast and crew, discussing this as a follow-up to Days of Glory, the inspiration for the story, the characters that ground the piece, and the themes pervasive throughout. Interjected amidst the numerous cast and crew interview snippets we get lots of final film clips, but also a fair amount of behind the scenes footage, often taken from the various sets used for the different settings in the film. Worth checking out.
This accompanying 12 minute Interview (again, in French, with English subtitles) gives us yet more detail from the Director as to his sources of inspiration and his goal with bringing the story of the Algerian War to the Big Screen, further highlighting the message of the movie and the themes throughout his Algerian saga (due to, eventually, have a concluding part to the trilogy).
Finally there’s the original theatrical trailer for the movie, also presented in French with English subtitles.
Outside the Law is unquestionably tough to watch; an era-spanning historical War drama which blends themes from a number of other familiar movies (it does owe some of its ideas to the Godfather movies) to create a shocking, personal-yet-expansive look at the Algerian War – portraying neither side as without fault, and showing that both sides partook in extreme action just to win. Sure, there is a certain amount of artistic licence that has been taken here in order to show a more entertaining, affecting drama, but at least this isn’t another Seagal film, as you might have assumed from the distinctly unimaginative title, and there is a fair amount of historical content here, educating the masses about a war which few know a great deal about, and which continues to haunt both the French and the Algerians.
On Region Free UK Blu-ray we get decent enough video and audio, as well as a short but solid selection of extras. Overall this is well worth a rental, and if you liked the first part in the director’s unofficial Algerian trilogy, you should definitely consider a worthy follow-up, and allow it a place next to Days of Glory in your film collection.
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