Spy Game appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.39:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Though not a poor transfer, this one showed its age.
For the most part, sharpness felt positive, albeit with some issues. Light edge haloes appeared at times, and some noise reduction reduced fine detail and gave the movie an odd “digital” feel.
Still, the movie usually displayed reasonable to positive delineation. Mild instances of jagged edges and shimmering occurred.
While the flick felt grainy, I suspect most of this came from artifacts, as the image appeared to strip the flick of most real grain. In terms of print flaws, I saw occasional specks but nothing extreme.
Colors often went for a chilly blue feel, though flashbacks opted for a sepia feel. The movie’s hues seemed decent but a little too dense at times.
Blacks became crushed, while shadows tended to appear a little murky. The image boasted enough positives to earn a “C”, but it could use an update.
On the other hand, the movie’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 fared well. Not surprisingly, battle scenes gave the mix its best dimensionality.
At those times, the track really became lively as it used all five channels actively. The sounds of war surrounded me in a realistic and natural manner.
Audio seemed well-integrated among the different speakers, and sounds blended neatly from channel to channel. This turned into an engulfing soundfield.
Audio quality seemed similarly strong. Dialogue came across as natural and accurate with no signs of edginess or problems related to intelligibility.
Music was bright and dynamic and clearly reproduced the film’s score at all times. Effects were also terrific and they often packed a substantial punch.
With solid bass, effects seemed clear and crisp at all times. Ultimately, the mix offered a strong auditory experience.
The disc comes with a mix of extras, and we find two separate audio commentaries. The first comes from director Tony Scott, as he brings a running, screen-specific look at story/characters, cast and performances, sets and locations, visual design and photography, music, editing, and related domains.
The best aspects of the commentary come from his interactions with Robert Redford, as Scott found it semi-intimidating to have an Oscar-winning director in his cast. I also like the info about how the film changed and adapted for the post-9/11 climate.
A veteran of the format, Scott offers a good but not exceptional chat here, one that only occasionally really kicks into higher gear as mentioned above. That said, Scott covers all the appropriate bases, and he does so with reasonable detail.
For the second commentary, we hear from producers Marc Abraham and Douglas Wick. Both sit together for their running, screen-specific discussion of topics similar to those covered by Scott.
This leads to some inevitable repetition of information, but that doesn’t become a significant issue. Even when Abraham and Wick get into domains also found in Scott’s commentary, they approach this material from a different POV, so this ends up as a largely appealing chat.
Called Clandestine Operations, an interactive feature offers a branching option. When an icon appears onscreen, the viewer hits “enter” and gets various components.
Most of these come from short video clips that span between 43 seconds and three minutes, 35 seconds for a total of 23 minutes, 19 seconds of material. The clips cover locations, casting, sets, realism and effects.
Across these, we hear from Scott, Wick, Abraham, actor Robert Redford, military advisor Freddie Joe Farnsworth, aerial coordinator Marc Wolff, demolition supervisor Charles Moran, and special effects supervisor Trevor Wood.
We also get six text screens that provide simple biographies for a few supporting characters. The set provides four extended scenes that run between 47 seconds and seven minutes, three seconds for a total of 14 minutes, 15 seconds.
The bios prove pretty forgettable and irrelevant, especially because the characters involved don’t do much in the final film. The extended scenes vary from negligible to substantial in terms of how they alter the release cut, so they can become interesting.
Five Deleted Scenes fill a total of five minutes, 26 seconds. They tend to offer a little more exposition and not much else, so they don’t seem especially valuable.
We can view these with or without commentary from Scott. He gives us basics about the sequences as well as why they got the boot.
We also get four Alternate Versions of Existing Scenes. These duplicate the sequences found during “Clandestine Operations”, but it’s good to get them outside of that domain.
These can be seen with or without more commentary from Scott. He continues to elaborate on the clips and why they didn’t wind up in the final product.
Script to Storyboard Process goes for two minutes, 51 seconds and gives notes from Scott. We see some storyboard/final film comparisons as Scott discusses his processes. This becomes a short but decent piece.
Finally, a text segment provides an explanation of Requirements for CIA Acceptance. It offers a forgettable addition to the set.
With notables both behind and in front of the camera, Spy Game feels like a sure-fire winner. Instead, it turns into a jumbled dud without any excitement or drama. The Blu-ray comes with excellent audio and a good roster of bonus features but visuals seem dated. Expect disappointment from this clunker.