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Reviews » Blu-ray Reviews » Nomads (Blu-ray)
Nomads (Blu-ray)
Shout Factory // R // August 18, 2015 // Region A
List Price: $24.97 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Ian Jane | posted August 11, 2015 | E-mail the Author
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C O N T E N T
V I D E O
A U D I O
E X T R A S
R E P L A Y
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The Movie:

Before John McTiernan directed big time blockbusters like Die Hard and Predator he was the man behind 1986's Nomads, a film he both wrote and directed and that also served as an early film role or Pierce Brosnan. To date it's the only writing credit McTiernan has, and maybe that's for the best. Nomads is fun and it is entertaining, but when you think about it too much, well, the movie is a bit of a mess.

Flax (Leslie-Anne Down) is a doctor who is in charge of taking care of a man brought in who was living down by the beaches in Los Angeles. He seems to have something wrong upstairs and most suspect mental illness, or maybe drugs. Flax has got her work cut out for her: this guy rants at her in French and can and will get violent, but as he's under her care he whispers something in her ear and… then he dies. It turns out that this man was a French anthropologist named Jean Charles Pommier (Pierce Brosnan) and that it wasn't all that long ago that he moved to the City Of Angels with his wife (Anna-Maria Moneticelli) to live the American dream.

From here the movie bounces around and heads into some strange directions as Flax starts to experience Charles' past and learn what lead up to her taking care of him and ultimately his death. She learns that shortly after moving to L.A. he became the target of some leather clad punks (punks of the goofy eighties movie variety played by Adam Ant, Josie Cotton, and Mary Woronov!). Pommier investigates, he gets out there with his camera and tries to document things and figure out exactly who these people are and what they want. They trash his house and start stalking him and when Flax starts to see them herself, she realizes that they're the nomadic spirits of city dwelling Innuat that tie back to Charles' past!

There are some cool ideas here. The concept of Pommier transferring his memories to Flax before he dies, presumably so she can try to sort everything out where he's not able to, is an interesting one and it leads to some decent scenes where his wife is curious as to how this woman neither of them knew now seems to know things that she couldn't possibly know. There are some great shots here too, lots of nice lighting and some slick compositions and cool eighties era Los Angeles fashions on display. This keeps the movie fun to look at, and Brosnan fans will be interested to know that he's got a partial nude scene here too, so there's that. The idea of presenting the Innuat as eighties punks is an odd one but it sort of works, at least in a visual sense. The real problem is that we never get a sense of their purpose, they're just sort of their and they're never as scary as the characters seem to think that they are. The fact that they're played by who they're played by goes a long way towards making up for that, but a little more exposition would have gone a long way in that regard.

Performance wise, if Brosnan doesn't always completely nail the French accent his character sports he doesn't really embarrass himself either. He's fine in the role and it's interesting to see him cast against type here. There are moments where you have to question the logic of his character in the movie and spots where you kind of figure, huh, that dumb move of his kind of got him into this tricky spot to begin with, but that's less to do with his acting then the script. Leslie-Anne Down as the female lead is also fine but her work can't overcome similar problems to those Brosnan's character is stuck with: dumb moves on the part of Flax often land Flax in hot water.

The movie gets credit for trying something different. There's a surrealist element to the film and the way that it unfolds that is admirable, if not always well executed. Entertainment value is plentiful here, but the hard to miss logic gaps definitely hurt things a bit. It's a fun watch and an interesting movie not afraid to take some interesting chances, but it's definitely got a few problems too.

The Blu-ray:

Video:

Nomads is presented in AVC encoded 1080p high definition framed at 1.85.1 widescreen and generally it looks pretty good. Some scenes look like they were shot softer than others so detail isn't always super consistent but more often than not it is solid enough. Skin tones look fine and color reproduction is good. Black levels are pretty decent too and while shadow detail can vary a bit for the most part it's fine. The image is clean, showing no serious print damage just a few nicks and specks here and there. Compression artifacts aren't really a problem here and there are no obvious issues with any noise reduction or edge enhancement.

Sound:

The English language DTS-HD 2.0 Stereo track is fine. It's well balanced and you won't have any problems understanding the dialogue. The score has a bit of presence to it in a few spots while the track remains free of any audible hiss or distortion. It's not a super duper fancy deluxe surround remix but it is certainly a faithful reproduction of the movie's original sound and it suits the film just fine.

Extras:

The main extras on the disc are new Interviews with actress Lesley-Ann Down and Composer Bill Conti. Down, still a truly beautiful woman, speaks for just over sixteen minutes about the film's success (or lack thereof), how it's interesting to her what happened to the people involved with the picture after it was made, her thoughts on the film, how she got into acting, the importance of etiquette in the business and a fair bit more. She comes across as quite appreciative of the chance to work on the picture and, while aware of the film's strengths and weaknesses (including her own work in front of the camera which she describes as ‘inadequate'), speaks quite fondly of working on it. Conti talks for seventeen and a half minutes about how music is the ultimate fantasy because it's not literal, working with McTiernan, writing and recording the score (which he didn't do in a normal way). He gives some interesting details about this part of the process, and he also talks about his thoughts on the film itself, some of the more unusual interactions with some of his co-conspirators on the picture and more.

Aside from that we get a theatrical trailer for the feature, a radio spot, a still gallery, menus and chapter selection.

Final Thoughts:

Nomads isn't a perfect film but it does have a lot of cool ideas at play, some (though not all) of which actually work quite well. Ha the story done a better job of fleshing out the antagonists/spirits it would have worked better than it does but as it stands, there's enough weirdness going on here that the movie will definitely have some cult appeal. The Blu-ray release from Shout! Factory features less extras than a lot of their special edition discs do but it does provide a pretty solid transfer and good audio. Recommended for cult/horror enthusiasts or those who already know they like the movie, a fine rental for the curious masses.

Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.

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