Line of Duty AKA In the Line of Duty
R2 - United Kingdom - Signature Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: Rick Curzon (21st May 2020).
The Film

Buckle up for intense against-the-clock action as Aaron Eckhart stars in the explosive real-time thriller In the Line of Duty, from the producers of John Wick and Sicario.

The film finds disgraced cop Frank Penny (Aaron Eckhart: The Dark Knight) on a rogue mission of redemption to find the Chief of Police's (Giancarlo Esposito: Breaking Bad) abducted daughter. With the girl's chances of survival already slim, Penny makes a fatal mistake and kills the twisted abductor, eliminating their only lead as to the girl's whereabouts.

Now joined by ambitious reporter Ava (Courtney Eaton) who is live streaming the search, all hell breaks loose when the dead abductor's brother (Ben McKenzie: Gotham) arrives on the scene with a bloody thirst for revenge ...

Video

A disgraced copper Frank Penny (Aaron Eckhart) is forced to kill a suspect (James Hutchison III) on the run who has kidnapped police chief Volk's (Giancarlo Esposito) daughter (Nishelle Williams); with his death goes the main lead to where the daughter is hidden ... and she's going to drown in 68 minutes. As a result, Penny is stripped of his police status but he still tries to find the young child with the help of a live streaming journalist Ava Brooks (Courtney Eaton). Complicating things, the revenge-seeking brother of the dead killer (Ben McKenzie) is also out to get them.

This kicks off with a crackerjack chase through the streets with plenty of hand-held camerawork and the whole thing is driven by an excellent Tangerine Dream-esque score by The Newton Brothers. A slick, real time action film from the filmmakers behind John Wick (2017) and Sicario (2015); similar to the fine but forgotten 1995 film Nick of Time in some respects.

All credibility goes out the window as soon as the script has the police chief officiating over the operation to find his daughter's abductor. Lots of humorous moments to leaven the darkness and we have yet another cop lead with a troubled past; is there any other in Hollywood? Still, it's a cracking little film and Aaron Eckhart is excellent in the leading role with Courtney Eaton as a reporter who plays like Bugs Bunny to Eckhart's Daffy Duck at times ... at least in the early stages.

The kind of film that in the '80s or '90s would've starred Sylvester Stallone or Bruce Willis and been seen in multiplexes worldwide; it deserves such a release but these days sadly only massive tentpole films with megastars or superheroes seem to warrant such. Highly recommended.

Line of Duty has a naturalistic, colourful palette with plenty of bright primaries throughout; there is a slight yellow lean in the grade. It was shot digitally and finished in the 2.4:1 aspect ratio. Flesh tones are natural and look nicely balanced. Black levels are good; no unintended crush and shadow detail is present although this is standard definition so there is a natural lack of very fine details and texture, especially in backgrounds. There's some grain but again, it's less distinct that if this were in HD. Contrast is very good with plenty of balance between light and dark and no blowouts.

PAL / MPEG-2 / 2.4:1 / 95:11

Audio

English Dolby Digital 5.1
English Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo
Subtitles: None

As is mostly usual for Signature Entertainment, no subtitles but the US Lionsgate Blu-ray had English for the hard of hearing plus Spanish. The thing is, subtitles are the soundtrack for the deaf and those with hearing loss. These days every DVD,BD and UHD BD SHOULD have them. Even streaming services have them, so the data files are there.

On to the sound.

Standard 5.1 and 2.0 downmix in lossy Dolby Digital and once again I found that I had to increase the volume hugely to get the desired effect on my system. This is an active punchy 5.1 track as befitting a modern action flick. Plenty of base and subwoofer activity especially in the opening foot chase. Surrounds are active at all times with plenty of ambiance and score relegated to the rear. Crowd and streets scenes are very active; an excellent track. The 2.0 is the same only less so obviously.

Lossless on BD would be a big step up.

Extras

Startup Trailers:
- Escape from Pretoria (2:30)
- The Courier (1:34)


The usual promos and nowt else. A crying shame because the US Blu-ray from Lionsgate has a director's commentary and a behind the scenes puff piece. So, why oh why were they not included along with the subtitle stream?

Packaging

Standard black DVD keepcase.

Overall

A peppy little dum-dum actioner of the kind that sadly rarely, if ever, get released into cinemas these days which is a crying shame. Character actors like Eckhart are good enough and charismatic enough to take the lead and this is a fine example of that. The transfer is bang up to date and therefore very strong, but sadly has been relegated to DVD only in the UK; no Blu-ray which is mystifying. Extras are non-existant which is also regrettable as the US releases have a director's commentary and making of featurette. Also, this release has no subtitles, again a demerit. As is usual, this release has a very modest price and is highly recommended on that score alone Especially as this is one of the best straight to video / streaming films I've seen.

The Film: A- Video: B+ Audio: B+ Extras: E

 


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