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Reviews » Blu-ray Reviews » National Security (Blu-ray)
National Security (Blu-ray)
Sony Pictures // PG-13 // November 18, 2008 // Region A
List Price: $28.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Ryan Keefer | posted November 30, 2008 | E-mail the Author
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The Movie:

National Security is such an easy target to pick on when it comes to sharing thoughts on the film (something having to do with fish and barrels), so let me focus for a second on what I was impressed by, or curious about when watching the film. During a couple of the action sequences, particularly during one sequence when the cops are chasing after the film's stars, the composition used for the film sounds an awful lot like the one that's used frequently in Casino Royale. As far as I know, the film's composer Randy Edelman was not attached to the James Bond film, but if I've perhaps started a legal wheel in motion, sorry?

Getting to some overall thoughts on National Security, I can tell you it was written by Jay Scherick and David Ronn. You might know them from their previous work on the screenplay which became Norbit. One would think that between that film and this one that no one would buy a script from them for a long time, but I digress. The film was directed by Dennis Dugan, who directed Big Daddy and Happy Gilmore. I know this because it's the big marketing comment on the cover of the Blu-ray case, which leads me to ponder just how bad the film is if you're using the work of a guy who did a couple of Adam Sandler movies as some attempt to move product? Anyway, the film stars Martin Lawrence (Black Knight) as Earl, a man who is rebellious against the police and the culture of police brutality in California when he meets Hank (Steve Zahn, Rescue Dawn), whose partner was recently killed when the two were investigating a break-in. Hank and Earl trade words and Hank is filmed hitting Earl, when in actuality he was swatting at a bumblebee that was buzzing around Earl. Yes, a Rodney King joke, made a decade too late. I'll give you a minute to repair your sides, since I'm guessing they've split.


Welcome back. Anyway, to continue with what goes on here, Hank is imprisoned and released and becomes a security guard. Finding out that Earl is also a security guard, Hank tries to catch Earl not doing his job, but instead runs into a robbery which, as it turns out, involves many more people than he first imagined. Hank's old boss in the force (Bill Duke, The Limey) doesn't believe him, even as Hank finds out who the criminal mastermind is, and that would be Eric Roberts (Runaway Train), who apparently didn't believe in coloring his hair during the production. As for Duke, the man's normally a stoic gent, but the whole movie has him in wardrobe that's at least a couple sizes too big for him, which might be the reason why he looks a little more annoyed than usual. Or maybe that's because he's in a film that is devoid of any real funny moments.

Yes, it's a comedy with no jokes, and it doesn't help that the film's events are so telegraphed that an Indian could read the smoke signals. Earl and Hank become friends, albeit reluctantly. The crime operations include members of the police force, Earl and Hank try to prove their case, and nobody will listen to them for the first couple of acts, and when they find someone, he promptly gets captured by the bad guys. But most of the film follows the wacky hijinks of Martin Lawrence and Steve Zahn. And Lawrence seems to be rehashing the same material he'd done for a half dozen years before this film, and Zahn, who is a quietly funny guy, is clearly miscast in a role that could have been done by someone a little more suited for it, who's a little more buttoned down and conventional. He made me laugh once during the whole film, which was one more time than Lawrence did. After gorging myself on Thanksgiving turkey, watching National Security was the cinematic equivalent of ipecac.

The Blu-ray Disc:
Video:

Presented in 1.85:1 widescreen using the MPEG-4 codec, National Security looks very...ordinary. While containing a decent though not pervasive amount of film grain, the image is quite soft in long stretches of the production, and background dimensionality is nonexistent. Blacks are consistent while watching the film and detail is a marginal improvement over the standard definition version. I wasn't expecting anything really remarkable on the Blu-ray disc as it was, but I've seen many that have been better and a few that have been worse.

Sound:

National Security comes to the high definition world in your choice of English, French and Portuguese TrueHD 5.1 soundtracks, reminiscent of many silly audio choices on Sony discs. I think I liked this for the reason that there were quite a few songs on the disc that sound clear as a bell and even have a bit of a subwoofer punch. On the flip side, dialogue is on the weak side, and bleeds over into the other front channels, but directional effects are actually pretty good during the gunfire sequence at the factory that Lawrence's character is supposed to be guarding, along with good speaker panning when its required of the soundtrack. For those of you who are thinking about upgrading on your standard definition copies of this film (and you know who you are), it's worth doing, if you're going that way.

Extras:

I'm going to go out on a limb and presume that the extras from the standard definition disc are the same as the Blu-ray release, and it turns out they are, starting with a commentary from Dugan. I give the man credit for being enthusiastic about the production, and he possesses quite a bit of recollection about it, along with spotting various supporting cast and crew, and their filmographies. He also talks about working with Lawrence and Zahn. I give him points for liking the material, but the commentary is a little on the boring side. Three deleted scenes (21:26) are next, one of which is an alternate ending, and another is a script-to-screen comparison which also includes some footage of Lawrence's improvisation, and while this looks nice, it's not all that special. Previews for Casino Royale, Hancock and 21 are on this BD-Live enabled disc, along with a music video (4:19) which includes appearances by many, including something named Titi-Boy. So I'm guessing the porn actor is apparently doing rap now?

Final Thoughts:

I'd tell you to go and check out National Security on Blu-ray, but you're a young crowd, with your whole lives in front of you. Do you really need to subject yourselves to that much punishment? The audio and video qualities might be slight upgrades from the standard definition version, but if you're pondering a double-dip, is it really worth it? I'll leave you all with a metaphorical question, if a crap movie is released on Blu-ray and nobody watches it, did the movie really exist?

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