Newsmakers (UK - DVD R2)
Marcus would have preferred to see the news report rather than the actual event
After a stakeout turns into a citywide shootout, the Russian police force is left a little red faced, especially when one of their officers is shown crying on national TV. The newly appointed head of police public relations, Katya (Mariya Mashkova), offers up her own angle on how to make the force come out of this on top and suggests they turn the tracking down of the gang into a reality show.
Introducing camera mounted helmets and inviting the press to cover the whole event, the gang are cornered in an apartment block. Now it’s only a matter of time before the bad guys are captured but of course ratings must be taken into consideration.
I wish that Newsmakers was about what I just said it was about. It sort of is but really, the opportunity for this relatively modern twist on the tried and tested crime thriller/hostage situation never really takes advantage of what it has to offer and ends up hinting at the good stuff while dragging its feet dealing in the typical events.
There’s plenty of screen time dedicated to telling us how all this is being aired on TV and how the internet is streaming it live but we’re never shown it. We never get to see how the police are manipulating the events via the media or how the bad guys own internet post of a shootout is taken by the public or even a single shot from the helmet mounted cameras. It’s all implied, all speculated and sadly we’re never allowed to get caught up in the debate of whether this would be a logical way forward for police work and news broadcasting. What we’re left with is fairly unimaginative characters doing fairly conventional things, all wrapped up with a slight sense of Russian humour, which I’ll admit was lost on me for the most part (was I meant to find the police force having lunch funny?).
Admittedly, there's a valid ongoing argument about the imbalance of the modern media spin approach and good old fashioned police work to get the job done but none of that is really used effectively and what we're left with is fair few impressive shoot outs, some relatively pointless conversations and a Speed style final act to force Newsmakers to wrap up like real thriller. Sadly, without more of an exploration of the media manipulation elements, this all really ends up being about nothing and brings nothing new or all that exciting to the table.
It’s not the sharpest of transfers but Newsmakers has a nice overall feel, with a fairly realistic approach to its situation. Colours are fairly muted and generally the image comes with a slightly cold green tinge but the transfer is clean, relatively grain free and with much of the film in a wide open area outside of a block of flats, the image manages to be natural and warm to capture the weather.
The interior shots also hold up pretty well for standard definition, with details and textures looking pretty good, skin tones looking natural (though everyone looks a little tanned) and the bleak interior of the apartment block looking thoroughly lived in as opposed to a set. It’s not even close to being anything to get excited about visually but the transfer is a solid one and the good elements caught up with me as the movie plodded on.
Outside of the well presented Russian dialogue, there’s not much going on with Newsmakers... well other than those shoot outs of course. The gun shots and falling shells fill the Dolby Digital 5.1 track nicely and there’s plenty going on through the big scenes. I wouldn’t say it was as powerful as the action deserved and this is by no means a Michael Mann type affair but the realism of the scene was sold well via the audio mix and having it as the opener to the movie really got me on board.
Besides that, there’s the odd explosion, plenty of clinking and clanking while the bad guys ready their weapons and of course some more shoot outs when the cops take on the baddies within the apartment block (this time with effective gunshot echoes). None of this really matches the opening faceoff, but it’s still enjoyable stuff that opts for small audible touches as opposed to rip your head off power (in this case, I think I would have preferred the power).
The only movie specific extra here is the trailer (01:31). The other offerings are trailers for Red Baron, Baby, Dead Man’s Cards, Fatal Move, Flashpoint and IP Man.
Despite its best intentions, Newsmakers comes off as one big missed opportunity. If this one manages to spawn an American Remake that makes it more about the media coverage element, I honestly think there could be something interesting to offer up but unfortunately as it is, the one dimensional characters and the undercooked drama just weren’t strong enough to make this at all memorable.
Review by Marcus Doidge
Suitable only for persons of 18 years and over
Release Date: 3rd May 2010
Disc Type: Single side, dual layer
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 Russian, Dolby Digital 2.0 Russian
Easter Egg: No
Director: Anders Banke
Cast: Andrei Merzlinkin, Yevgeni Tsygandv, Mariya Mashkova
Genre: Crime, Drama and Thriller
Length: 102 minutes