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Armageddon (aka Armaguedon)

Kino // Unrated // April 26, 2022
List Price: $29.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Ian Jane | posted May 6, 2022 | E-mail the Author

The Movie:


Written and directed by Alain Jessua from a novel by David Lippincott, 1977's Armageddon once again pairs the filmmaker with leading man Alain Delon, who had starred in the director's Shock Treatment a few years earlier in 1973.


The story in the movie revolves around a repairman named Louis Carrier (Jean Yanne) who inherits a sizeable amount of money when his brother passes away and then uses those funds to launch what is essentially a terrorist campaign with the intention of drawing the world's attention on himself. Calling himself 'Armageddon,' it's clear that Carrier's mental state is quickly deteriorating as he strikes different law enforcement locations and then larger government targets, eventually threatening a large international political gathering to take place in Paris.


Enter Dr. Michael Ambrose (Delon), a psychologist employed by Interpol tasked with investigating Carrier's activities and helping to trap him at the political gathering. Of course, Ambrose's job won't be easy, as not only are he and his associates in a race against time, but they don't realize that Carrier isn't working alone.


While the plot, which has a few clich├ęs to content with and some problems establishing proper character development for its central antagonist, isn't going to blow you away, the acting in the film is excellent and makes Armageddon worth seeking out. Delon, who also served as a producer on this film, is excellent as Ambrose, we have no problem buying him as a man of intelligence and someone capable of getting into Carrier's head the way that he does as the story plays out. Jean Yanne is almost as good as the top-billed Delon. There could and should have been more done to elaborate on his character's mental breakdown, the movie would have been more interesting had Jessua taken things in that direction, but that's no fault of Yanne's acting abilities. He makes for a very good villain, though you do wind up wishing that the two stars of the film had a bit more screen time together.


The production values are strong here. The movie is very nicely shot by cinematographer Jacques Robin, the framing is strong and there's very good use of color as well as of shadow and light. Jessua's direction is pretty solid and he manages to craft a few scenes that turn out to be quite tense. The soundtrack from Astor Piazzolla is excellent and quite unique, adding an additional layer of interest to the movie.


The Video:


Armageddon arrives on Blu-ray from Kino Lorber in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer provided by Studio Canal framed at 1.66.1 widescreen taking up just over 30.7GBs of space on the 50GB disc. The picture quality is very good. The image is consistently film-like, showing plenty of natural grain but not much at all in the way of noticeable print damage. Detail is very good here and colors are reproduced nice and accurately. There aren't any issues with any obvious noise reduction or edge enhancement to note and the strong bit rate ensures that compression artifacts aren't ever a problem. All in all, it looks very good.


The Audio:


The only audio option on the disc is a 24-bit DTS-HD 2.0 Mono track in French with optional subtitles provided in English only. This is a fairly dialogue driven film but the track handles everything well, giving things some punch when the movie calls for it and doing a very nice job with the score. No problems with any hiss or distortion and the levels are balanced nicely. The subtitles are clean, clear, easy to read and free of any noticeable typos.


The Extras:


An audio commentary by film historians Howard S. Berger, Steve Mitchell and Nathanial Thompson. This amiable chat dives right into the film, how the theme of 'who wants to be famous' plays out in the movie, how Alain Jessua was on a hot streak at the time that the movie was made and the trickiness of his career, how the movie toys with expectations in terms of who we do and don't have sympathy for, insight into some of what makes the characters interesting, how the movie in a lot of ways is about Europe rebuilding itself after the Second World War, details on the different cast and crew members that appear in the film with plenty of detail about Delon's presence in the film, the perfect casting on display in the film, the way that the different characters interconnect in the film, the quality of the production values in the movie and lots more, including some thoughts on how the director and star got along. It's a pretty insightful talk that does a nice job of peeling back the layers of the themes the film explores and offering up the expected facts and trivia about the people who made the picture.


The disc also includes a trailer for the feature and bonus trailers for Diabolically Yours, Farewell Friend, The Sicilian Clan, Un Flic and The Widow Couderc as well as menus and chapter selection options.


Overall:

Armageddon works quite well, it's slick, tense and well-acted with some nice moments of strong tension and plenty of style. Kino's Blu-ray edition offers the film up in a very nice presentation and with an interesting commentary as its main extra feature. Recommended.

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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