Edward Zwick has been no stranger to directing films that tell the story of a struggling group or daring tale of a someone simply trying to do good. Defiance and Blood Diamond, two of Zwick’s latest efforts, fall under this category but it was his 1998 film The Siege that became eerily relevant just a few years later. The film dealt with terrorist attacks domestically and while the film wasn’t all that well received at the time it’s since been looked upon as almost a film that was before it’s time, with the events it constructed in the film eerily mimicking those that we saw after 9/11. While the film received a special edition release in 2007 that discussed its relationship to a post-9/11 world, this marks the first time the film has seen a Blu-ray release.
When a crowded city bus blows up in Brooklyn and a campaign of terror begins to make it’s bloody mark on the streets of New York, it’s up to FBI special agent Anthony “Hub” Hubbard (Washington) and U.S. Army General William Devereaux (Willis) to find out who’s responsible and put an end to the destruction.
As films go it’s a rather generic plot and I can definitely see how it wasn’t all that engaging to viewers in 1998 when it originally came out as the ideas it presented were simply absurd at the time for the general public. But once we were attacked, all gloves were off and we were eventually deluged with films that either dealt with the events of 9/11 or mirrored them. It took some time, of course, for those films to come out after 2001, but eventually eyes drew back to Zwick’s film to see how perfectly the film mirrored the events that we still face today.
Of course as films go it’s a pretty mediocre outing still, with random side plots that seem to ultimately go nowhere and characters that turn on one another that’s as predictable as Samuel L. Jackson dropping and F-bomb and there’s no doubt in my mind that there’d be less appeal to this film if 9/11 hadn’t happened, as it’s really just those events that make this film stand out now. It was “ahead” of its time with the story it was telling and in that regard it was definitely a pioneer…but even some ideas are still bad ones even after they hit the mainstream.
The problem with the film ultimately stems from the fact it’s just a bunch of hopping from bomb-to-bomb with little progression made along the way as each sleeper cell deactivates and another takes its place. It may be how they’re set up but it doesn’t make for very good movie going when it gets as predictable as that. It also doesn’t help that the film came off as largely stereotypical, which was, I guess, a point of it all that we’re so quick to profile individuals that we go so far as to lock a minority up. The film takes both sides of the coin on, however, and really ends up painting a picture that isn’t so much grey as it is frustrating—there’s no real answer to dealing with the fear that’s felt after terrorist attacks and that even army general’s sometime lose their cool.
In the end this is an intriguing film in the thoughts it provides and, again, for the eerie similarities it has to the modern world, but past that you don’t get much out of the film. It’s only interesting as an after-the-fact type outing and the issues it deals with are only superficial, as it’s largely just an action movie to “stop the bad guy” more than anything. Still worth a Rental if you haven’t seen it, but definitely not something worth watching again and again.
The film itself arrives in a standard Elite Blu-ray case (the new eco-friendly edition). Menus are generic but easy to navigate. An AVC encoded 1080p video transfer brings forth a less than impressive presentation, if only because the film jumps back and forth between full of detail and kind of muddy. It’s not really demo material because…well, it’s not really a demo-worthy film, but there are some worthwhile sequences in high-definition and DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix…there’s still plenty of room rumbling scenes to take in.
The aforementioned extras that made the 2007 DVD re-release such a great title to own, due to their retrospective nature, are…nowhere to be found here. In fact this release appears to be one of their earlier efforts, as there is very little that is impressive about this release (the disc art even uses a darker Blu-ray band like the older releases). There’s some trailers for other films, but that’s it.
So in short…Skip this one. The transfer is less than stellar and the extras are non-existent. You’d be better served picking up the 2007 DVD release than this one.
The Siege is now available on Blu-ray.