Veronica Guerin DVD Review

Though he is heavily looked down upon for ruining the "Batman" franchise, Joel Schumacher has done some fine work lately. Two Colin Farrell vehicles, "Phone Booth" and "Tigerland," are just as under appreciated as the director. His skills are put to good use in the excellent "Veronica Guerin," a film that not only helps the aging directors career, but Cate Blanchetts as well.

Based on a true story, the film goes back to 1994 when the Irish journalist Veronica Guerin (Blanchett) beings digging into an underground drug trading ring. As she gets deeper, the pressure mounts as the criminals begin threatening her, both physically and mentally. In 1996, it all came to a close when she was gunned down inside her car.

Digging into the history of these true events reveals that the Irish community remembers Guerin's death like President Kennedy's assassination is here in America. You remember where you were the moment it happened. "Veronica Guerin" doesn't sensationalize the event in any way. It's handled in devastating fashion, pulling at your emotions the way a good movie should. Most importantly however, it's not the focus of the film.

Instead, you'll learn far more about the person and what she was up against. If you're in America, there's a good chance you've never heard this story. That's why this movie is so important, to get her story out there to those who might not have heard it.

As a film, it works quite well. Cate Blanchett does a fantastic job portraying the journalist and deserved something for her performance here. It's briskly paced to say the least, running just a little over the 90-minute mark. There was time to develop things a bit more and it moves so fast, there are times when it feels like something made for TV to fit inside a specific time frame.

At times you have to think Veronica would have just stopped, but the script builds her character in a way that lets you know she won't. Tension always seems to be high because of it, as the audience can't expect just how far she'll go. That's not so much a great script as it is just a great true-life story, one that needed to be told to a wider audience. (**** out of *****)

This is an absolutely stunning transfer, except for one (major) problem. The black levels are all over the place. They vary in intensity from scene to scene, making for a jarring experience. Most of the film is fairly drab and dark, so it's an issue that doesn't just cure itself. When they're not in play, flesh tones and color is dead-on perfect. Detail is high and compression issues seem to be well under control. It's THX approved and that doesn't mean all that much when there's such a glaring problem. (***)

Overkill is the word for the audio. This is not a film that needs a DTS mix in any form, but it got one. Both the 5.1 and DTS tracks are solid, though there's not very much to listen to besides dialogue. There are a few pieces of the soundtrack that hammer home some bass and crowded areas offer some nice immersion, but that's it. It's no fault of the mix; it's just not a movie that needs major digital audio to work. (***)

The extras here are solid, just not incredible. "Public Mask. Private Fears" leads the way as a decent making-of. It doesn't focus on the movie completely, branching off to the real people in Veronica's life, including co-workers and her brother. The interviews are obviously taken from a different documentary. Still, those segments are brief and most of it is filled with interviews from Schumacher, Jerry Bruckheimer and Blanchett. In a smart move, they spend more time talking about the real woman then the movie version. The entire thing runs about thirteen minutes.

"A Conversation with Jerry Bruckheimer" isn't so much a conversation as it is a scene specific commentary. Clips of the movie play while he discusses his personal thoughts and some questions posed to him. In total, there are around twenty minutes of scenes.

There are two audio commentaries that run through the whole movie. Joel Schumacher leads the first one by himself while his writers, Carol Doyle and Mary Donoghue, take over the second. There is one deleted scene, an award ceremony from the Committee to Protect Journalists. If only having one deleted scene sounds odd, it has a purpose.

The actual video of the real event is the next feature. Blanchett copied the real life Guerin perfectly, almost word for word. Why the scene was cut from the film doesn't make much sense considering a little more running time would have been nice. The final extra is a "Producer's Photo Gallery," something Bruckheimer does with every film he works on. He narrates each one. It runs for seven minutes. The one thing missing from this disc is a documentary dedicated solely to Guerin herself. It's a shame one wasn't included. (***)

Though trying to find information on the real Guerin is tough since the movie came out and the internet is filled reviews for it, it's worth tracking it down if you're interested. Here's a nice link to a brief biography. It's probably better heading off to the library though. There's far more information on the movie out there and it's just easier to pick up a book.

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