In the Line of Fire appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This was a decent transfer but not one that excelled.
Sharpness was one of the inconsistent elements. While much of the movie showed reasonably good clarity and definition, occasional soft spots occurred, and the movie often showed a “smoothed out” look that robbed it of much detail. No issues with jagged edges or moiré effects popped up, and I saw no edge haloes. Print flaws also failed to mar the presentation.
In terms of colors, the movie tended to be a little pale. The hues lacked much vivacity, and some of that reflected the source. Still, I thought the colors could’ve been livelier. Blacks were reasonably dark, and shadows seemed fairly clean. This was a watchable image but it felt lackluster.
I was more pleased with the film’s pretty good Dolby TrueHD 5.1 soundtrack. The mix came from the “early days” of digital theater audio; Dolby Digital had only hit screens a year earlier, and 1993 marked the debuts of both DTS and SDDS. The latter format was used for In the Line of Fire, and that original mix has been nicely adapted for 5.1 use here.
The soundfield started somewhat slowly but became more involving as the film progressed. The forward speakers displayed pretty good separation and created a nicely lively environment. Sounds moved acceptably clearly between channels and the entire picture seemed fairly accurate.
The rears kicked in able reinforcement of the front imagery and added solid atmosphere of their own. Split-surround usage wasn’t frequent but when it did appear, it seemed well-utilized, such as when motorcades zoom past us.
Audio quality appeared good. The film featured some obviously-looped dialogue on a number of occasions, but speech usually sounded relatively natural and distinct, with just a few signs of edginess. I heard no problems related to intelligibility.
Effects were clean and realistic, with no distortion on display, and they seemed fairly rich and deep. Music came across as nicely bright and dynamic. The mix didn’t present any tremendous bass, but the low end seemed acceptably clean and tight. The soundtrack showed some age, but it still worked well nonetheless.
As we head to the set’s extras, we find an audio commentary from director Wolfgang Petersen. As was the case for his track on The Perfect Storm, disc producer JM Kenny joins Petersen. Kenny adds a little information but generally functions as moderator/interviewer during this semi-screen specific track; at times Petersen addresses the on-screen action, but much of his talk goes off onto other issues.
I’ve heard Petersen’s remarks for Das Boot, Air Force One and The Perfect Storm and found them to be decent but a little on the dull side. In many ways, this commentary resembles those others, especially during the not-too-scintillating first third or so, but it’s probably the best of the bunch.
Apparently recorded during the making of Perfect Storm, Petersen tends to fall back on his favorite subjects: detailed technical information and praising participants. However, much of the time he gets into more compelling notes about the film such as tidbits gained from research for the movie and also some of the methods used to create certain scenes.
I most like his statements about the ways the actors interacted, especially when he talks about the techniques used to get the best out of Eastwood. Petersen also provides a lot of information about his general filmmaking theories, all of which are stimulating to hear. Overall, I think this becomes a fairly compelling commentary that I enjoyed more than I expected; it’s a fairly typical piece from Petersen, but it’s still my favorite of his tracks.
In the Deleted Scenes area, we find five snippets with a total running time of five minutes, one second. We locate “Piano Bar 1” (2:17), “Hat Joke” (0:42), “Miss Me?” (0:44), “Watching the News” (0:53) and “Piano Bar 2” (0:25). None of these are especially memorable, but I was happy to have a look at them nonetheless.
A featurette called The Ultimate Sacrifice goes for 22 minutes, 14 seconds and offers a look back at the movie. We get comments from screenwriter Jeff Maguire, executive producer Gail Katz, technical advisor Bob Snow, US Secret Service Deputy Director Kevin Foley, USSS Field Agent Rebecca Ediger, USSS Assistant Director Larry Cockell, and actors Clint Eastwood, Dylan McDermott, and Rene Russo. We learn about the project’s roots and development, story/character areas, consulting with the Secret Service and related topics, cast and performances.
Secret Service subjects dominate “Sacrifice” and add some interesting tidbits. The show tends to be fluffy and feels a little like an ad for the Secret Service, but it comes with enough good info to merit a look.
More material about the Secret Service appears in Catching the Counterfeiters. This five-minute, 29-second featurette looks at that group’s less well-known task, and it provides a view of their tactics and techniques. We hear from Foley as well as USSS Counterfeit Department’s Lorelei W. Pagano and Daniel G. Snow. I like this brief history of attempts to battle counterfeiting, as it adds a nice touch of realism to the proceedings.
The next featurette looks at the film’s special effects. How’d They Do That? takes four minutes, 54 seconds to cover some different methods in which computer generated material helped keep down film costs and add a sense of reality. We get notes from Mysteriously Unnamed Effects Guy. It’s a good presentation that was sufficient for the topic.
The 19-minute and 57-second Behind the Scenes with the Secret Service comes from Showtime, and it offers a decent though somewhat insubstantial look at the movie. Hosted by Bob Snow, we find additional notes from Eastwood, Petersen, Katz, Russo, retired USSS Special Agent Jerry S. Parr, USSS Special Agents Gayle E. Moore and Carl Meyer, USSS Protective Operations Assistant Director Hubert T. Bell, producer Jeff Apple, Federal Law Enforcement Training Center director Charles F. Rinkevich, and actor John Malkovich.
This show seems a bit redundant since we have a similar piece in “The Ultimate Sacrifice”. Like that show, k“Scenes” combines movie factoids with material about the real Secret Service, and though they complement each other fairly well, the Showtime program is the weaker of the two. Still, despite some repetition and sense of déjà vu, I still thought the show merited a look.
The disc opens with ads for Vantage Point and Damages Season One. No trailer for Fire appears here.
At this point, I’ve seen In the Line of Fire probably five times, and although I have enjoyed it to a moderate degree on each viewing, I continue to find it mildly disappointing. The film presents few overt flaws, but it seems vaguely unsatisfying and never rises to the level of true excitement or invention. The Blu-ray offers good audio and bonus materials but picture quality seems lackluster. This ends up as a decent release for an entertaining but erratic movie.