A provocative and occasionally powerful 1998 drama/thriller from director Edward Zwick, "The Siege" stars Denzel Washington as Anthony Hubbard, the leader of an anti-terrorist section of the FBI in New York. When terrorist attacks start causing horrific destruction across the city, the level of action taken to stop the terrorists goes further and further.
Eventually, the army is called in, and - under the lead of power-hungry General Devereaux (Bruce Willis) - martial law is enforced by order of the President. As Arab terrorists are suspected, Arab-Americans are rounded up into camps in an attempt to find the terrorists, and some are tortured. In an attempt to crack the case and stop the terrorists before more attacks occur, Hubbard works with CIA agent Elise Kraft (Annette Benning), a CIA agent who may have ties to those behind the attacks.
The film's performances are a bit of a mixed bag, but there are certainly some highlights. Willis turns in the weakest performance, although not necessarily due to the actor, but simply due to the fact that Willis is stuck with a one-dimensional role - the character is. Annette Benning is probably the last actress I'd expect to play a CIA operative, but she's quite good in an enjoyably mysterious role. Washington offers a solid, commanding performance, as well. Tony Shalhoub is also quite good in a supporting role.
Technically though, "The Siege" is well done, with strong editing and often remarkable cinematography by the great Roger Deakins ("The Big Lebowski"). As a film though, it gets less interesting as it goes along and starts to get away from being a drama and further into thriller mode - especially when Willis' character enters.
VIDEO: "The Siege" is presented by 20th Century Fox in 2.35:1 (1080p/MPEG-2) and the results are generally good, although fall short of greatness. Sharpness and detail are above-average, as while the crisp picture was more well-defined than the DVD, there were still a few soft/inconsistent moments. Flaws include a few minor hints of edge enhancement and a couple of traces of noise. On a positive note, the print looked pristine, with no specks, marks or other debris. The film's sleek, steely color palette looked accurately presented, with no smearing or other concerns. The Blu-Ray wasn't a great improvement over the DVD, but was somewhat crisper and more detailed than the prior DVD.
SOUND: "The Siege" is presented in DTS-HD 5.1. "The Siege" is not a constantly agressive presentation, but I liked the details of it. Even in quieter scenes there are some ambient background sounds that at least attempt to make the sense of space seem more realistic. There are also some additional action sequences throughout the film that put the surrounds to more agressive use and provide strong, deep bass.
Grame Revell's score is very dynamic, consistently booming during the action scenes, providing a good deal of tension to the scenes. Dialogue is clear, clean and easily understood. The DTS-HD presentation was a nice upgrade over the DVD's Dolby Digital 5.1 presentation, providing tighter bass and improved clarity.
EXTRAS: Oddly, just the trailer. Given that director Edward Zwick has provided commentaries and other extras for many of his other films, it's a little bit of a surprise this film has never been released with any supplemental content.
Final Thoughts: "The Siege" works well as a drama and offers good performances from Washington and Benning, but the second half is somewhat less successful. The Blu-Ray edition boasts fine audio/video quality, but next-to-no supplements.
The Film B-