Rendition appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. I thought the disc provided a consistently satisfactory transfer.
Only a few minor glitches affected sharpness. At times, some wide shots displayed modest softness, and I also saw some light jagged edges during movement. Nonetheless, most of the film showed nice clarity and accuracy. Shimmering seemed to be absent, but I witnessed light edge haloes through the flick. At least it came without source flaws, as even film grain appeared lighter than normal in this clean presentation.
Like most dramas of this sort, Rendition went with a subdued palette. It wasn’t truly stylized, but it used a low-key set of colors that emphasized quiet blues and tans. The hues were consistently satisfying within those parameters. Blacks seemed dark and tight, and shadows displayed good clarity, as the low-light shots offered nice delineation. This wasn’t quite an “A”-level transfer but it seemed good.
I felt the same about the occasionally involving Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Rendition. The outdoor scenes in Africa created the best settings. Some of the good material came from the gunfire and explosions, but even the basic street environment proved lively and encompassing. Most of the movie stayed with general atmosphere, and those elements were also quite good. Music displayed nice stereo imaging and the surrounds bolstered the track well.
Audio quality pleased. A few louder lines showed some edginess, but dialogue was usually crisp and concise. Music displayed good range and vivacity, while effects were clear and accurate. Bass response proved satisfying during more prominent moments. I liked this consistently positive soundtrack.
A few extras round out this set. We get an audio commentary with director Gavin Hood. He provides a running, screen-specific chat. Hood chats about locations and geographical decisions, story and script issues, cast, characters and performances, visual design, research and real-life influences, and a few other production decisions.
Hood provides a consistently chatty and involving commentary. He keeps things moving at a nice pace and offers a broad view of the production. Really, I can’t find much not to like about this solid little discussion, as it covers the appropriate bases in a positive manner.
A documentary called ”Outlawed” goes for 27 minutes, 50 seconds. This piece looks at the cases some folks detained and interrogated in secret during recent years. We hear from subject Khaled El-Masri, CIA Rendition Program Chief Architect Michael Scheuer, and the relatives of a torture victim. Like Rendition itself, “Outlawed” wears its politics on its sleeve. Unlike the film, though, this show boasts the power behind its factual nature. It gives us a powerful look at some of the atrocities conducted under lawless interrogation programs.
Intersections: The Making of Rendition runs 30 minutes, five seconds and features notes from Hood, producers Steve Golin and Marcus Viscidi, director of photography Dion Beebe, extras casting director Salaheddine Benchegra, location managers Driss Gaidi and Christian McWilliams, Moroccan first AD Nourredine Aberdine, first AD Peter Kohn, picture vehicle coordinator Steve Lamonby, and actors Reese Witherspoon, Peter Sarsgaard, Omar Metwally, Zineb Oukach, Moa Khouas, Jake Gyllenhaal and Meryl Streep. The show looks at shooting in various locations and logistical concerns, cinematography, some story and character thoughts, casting extras, Hood’s approach to the material, and a few additional issues on the set.
While a bit disjointed, “Intersections” works mostly due to a lot of good glimpses at the set. We find many nice “fly on the wall” shots that let us take a look behind the scenes. These elements flesh out the occasional filmmaker comments and make this an interesting program.
Five Deleted/Alternate Scenes last a total of 18 minutes, 16 seconds. We find “Phone Call Subplot” (6:55), “Madrasa” (1:12), “Fake Escape” (6:12), “Extended Prison Escape” (1:18) and “Alternate Ending” (2:36). “Call” is probably the most interesting of the bunch as it explores Freeman’s suspicions about his lover, but those scenes wouldn’t have added anything notable to the film. “Fake” also has some decent elements, though it also would’ve slowed down the movie without much merit. The other clips are fairly forgettable, as even the “Alternate Ending” doesn’t bring anything useful to the table.
We can watch these with or without commentary from Hood. The director continues to offer good insights about the film. He provides some thoughts about the scenes and lets us know why he cut them in this engaging discussion.
A few ads open the DVD. We get clips for Pride and Glory, Black August, In the Valley of Elah, and Pu-239. These also appear in the DVD’s Sneak Peeks area, and we find the theatrical trailer for Rendition as well.
If it focused more on characters and plot and less on political commentary, Rendition might’ve become more potent. As it stands, the movie has some moments but tends to veer into territory that makes it more like an editorial than a real story. The DVD provides very good picture and audio along with a mix of satisfying supplements. I can’t complain about this fine release, but the film itself doesn’t prosper enough for my recommendation.