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Case Number 00015

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The Siege

Fox // 1998 // 115 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Chief Justice Sean McGinnis (Retired) // May 15th, 1999

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All Rise...

Editor's Note

Our review of The Siege (Blu-Ray), published June 22nd, 2009, is also available.

The Charge

On November 6th our freedom is history.

Opening Statement

The Siege wastes a couple of decent performances on a weak story.

The Evidence

The best part of The Siege is the performances. Without question, Denzel Washington is one of our finest actors, which he proves once again with this fine performance. While a bit of the characterization of Anthony Hubbard can be considered a re-hash of his earlier work, the character remains completely believable. To his credit, he can take a bad story and some fairly weak writing and still turn in a stellar performance.

Annette Bening also turns in a credible performance as Elise Kraft, the cagy CIA agent intent on containing her earlier life mistakes. One never questions whether it would be appropriate for the CIA to put a female operative in charge of recruiting a network of operatives in Iraq during the late '80s and early '90s. Truly a terrific performance.

Bruce Willis takes a brief star turn as General Devereaux and does it well. He is quite believable as a general with a personal interest in the goings on in New York City. My issue with his character has little to do with Willis' acting here, but rather the writing. See below for a complete analysis.

One last performance worth singling out is Tony Shalhoub who continues to prove he can do just about anything on screen. I am waiting for the day that someone gives him a chance to carry his own film as a leading man, rather than continue these supporting roles where he is often better than his leads.

The audio on this disc is hardly worth singling out as either good or bad, but I have to mention it somewhere, as that is the format for my reviews. So here it is. Nothing special, but nothing totally evil either. So there.

The Rebuttal Witnesses

I can't decide what's the worst element of this disc, the image, the writing, or the extras. The obvious culprit to attack first is the near complete lack of extras from Fox. The only thing worthy of inclusion on this disc is a copy of the theatrical trailer. Even the cardboard insert is nothing but a chapter break list. Sad to say, it sort of makes me long for those "terrific" MGM eight page inserts.

The next worst of the bunch has to be the story. Aside from being totally unbelievable, I have to question the reason for writing in the entire sub-plot about the United States Army occupying the borough of Brooklyn. The only reason I can come up with for letting that story-line stand is that the writer, or director or whoever was trying to make some sort of political statement against the "military industrial complex" or some such blather. Too bad really. Especially considering the fact that I am a really big fan of director Edward Zwick's earlier work such as Glory, Legends of the Fall, and even About Last Night.

In actuality, the story sans military invasion would have held my interest much better and probably have been a good movie. Had they flushed out the reason behind the terrorist attacks a bit more and played off the tension of the citizens more and shown us some of the grief caused by the happenings, and…on and on. My point is that this might have actually been a good movie but for the political motivations of somebody, I don't know who, but somebody!

The last thing to take issue with is the image quality of this transfer. The transfer actually looks superb during daylight scenes. In fact, when the movie opened with the rather brightly lit daylight scene in the desert, I figured we had a terrific image and I was in for a treat. Boy was I ever wrong. Every scene that is low key lit is filled with artifacts and very, VERY grainy. Perhaps the worst part of the transfer was the rather poorly placed layer change at 67:21. The change could have taken place at a longer blackout or something, but the change here was very noticeable, with Ms. Bening completely freezing on screen for a second or two as the disc searched for the second layer.

Closing Statement

Those of you who are fans of Edward Zwick may want to rent this film first. Those of you who are huge Denzel Washington fans should feel free to buy this disc sight unseen, as he carries the story, what little there is of it.

The Verdict

Guilty of weak transfer, weaker story and weakest extras.

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Scales of Justice

Video: 76
Audio: 80
Extras: 10
Acting: 90
Story: 70
Judgment: 65

Perp Profile

Studio: Fox
Video Formats:
• 2.35:1 Non-Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (English)
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (French)
• English
• Spanish
Running Time: 115 Minutes
Release Year: 1998
MPAA Rating: Rated R
• Action
• Drama

Distinguishing Marks

• Theatrical Trailer


• IMDb

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