Movie: Movies based on terrorist activity are viewed in a different light these days, given the events of 9/11/01. Until then, most such movies were the action/adventure or thrillers that used one of a handful of lead male actors including, but not limited to, Arnold Schwartzenegger, Harrison Ford, Van Damme, Stallone, and others. Most people would question putting an effeminate male in such a role as the suspension of disbelief required to look at them as being able to pull it off is simply too great. Such is the case with a recent direct-to-video release, The Fourth Angel.
The movie started off by establishing Jeremy Irons as a reporter who jet sets across the globe, usually leaving his wife and kids behind. In an attempt to make a work assignment more of a family vacation, Irons convinces his wife that a trip to India, one where he'll only have a couple of assignments, is a perfect idea. When the plane they are on gets hi-jacked, you know right away that Irons will be seeking vengeance on the cold-hearted thugs who gun down his wife and daughter, leaving him with only a son. Knowing what will happen beforehand makes the job of the screenwriter and the director all that more difficult, especially given the aforementioned casting limitation.
In any case, Irons goes on a one-man mission to kill the terrorists after the governmental powers that be let them go. He uses his resources at work to track them down and eliminate them on his own. As the movie uses the established genre formula whereby the lead somehow is a much better firearms expert than the "professional" terrorists, has access to better information on their whereabouts than the UK or USA combined, and better skills at avoiding them as they hunt him down, the only thing genre fans will care about is how good of a roller coaster ride the movie will provide. Sadly, every plot twist can be seen a mile away and the leads, Irons, Forest Whitaker, and Jason Priestley could have all phoned in their roles. For those who scoff at Arnold in movies like Collateral Damage, this is a whole new level of bad. The bad not being limited to just the acting, direction, or effects either; we're taking the whole project.
For those who'd like to know where the title of the movie came from, here's the quote from the Bible, in Revelations 16:8 : "And the Fourth Angel poured out his vial upon the sun: and power was given unto him to scorch men with fire." All the Bible quotes I'd come up with for this one shouldn't be used in mixed company. The acting was poor, the direction sloppy, the screenplay something out of a badly written dime store novel, and the whole premise remarkable in that it expects us to accept this pasty-faced wussy as a guy who could somehow defeat masses of heavily armed killers. At least Arnold winks at the camera once in awhile when situated in a similar role. I suggest you Skip It unless you're infatuated by Irons for some reason.
Picture: The picture was presented in 2.35:1 ratio anamorphic widescreen color. It had a lot of grain and looked low-budget most of the time. There was a lack of clarity, it was poorly lit in a number of scenes, and the edge enhancement bad enough that I noticed it without looking. The moiré and video noise didn't help matters, nor did the artifacts when present. When the lighting was proper, the fleshtones were a bit faded.
Sound: The sound came with a choice of either a 5.1 or 2.0 Dolby Digital English track (with optional Spanish subtitles). Both were average at best and what I'd expect of a television movie of the week made in the early 1990's.
Final Thoughts: The technical limitations paled compared to the weaknesses of the movie itself. When I heard that this was a bad movie, I felt obligated to check it out on my own since I've liked Whitaker's previous roles and Irons is often a good actor too. Given the limitations of the material here, both were hampered to the point where they were probably very happy the movie was shelved back in 2001. Pass this one up unless you're a masochist.