The Fourth Angel
Film Length: 95 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 16X9 Enhanced Widescreen (2.35:1)/P&S
Audio: DD 5.1 Surround, DD 2.0 Surround
Based on the novel by Robin Hunter, The Fourth Angel was supposed to have been a mainstream film to captivate audiences but after the 9/11 attacks, the film was put on the shelf and is just now being released in America. While the film has played overseas the subject matter just didn’t sit right with the circumstances here in America so people are just now getting the chance to view this film, which comes from Artisan.
Simon Boyd (Jeremy Irons), a London newspaper journalist decides to take a vacation to India with his wife, two daughters and their young son. Along the way there’s a mechanical problem and the plane has to land but all of this is staged so that hijackers can board the plane and demand fifty million dollars in cash. A deal is made and the women and children are let off the plane but the military steps in and a gunfight breaks out. In all the mayhem Simon’s wife and daughters are killed.
The grieving husband and father takes his son back to London hoping to get on with his life. All the tears are coming to an end when Simon discovers that the hijackers were actually arrested only to be turned free without a single charge being filed. His grief then turns to anger so he tries every which way possible to get charges filed. Both the American and British government refuses to help but he gets some information that the only way to see justice done is by doing the killing himself.
This was my first time viewing the film so I did a little research before hand and it seemed every article mentions the fact that the film was delayed due to the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Even the press release from Artisan mentions this but personally I see this as some sort of marketing ploy to get viewers interested in the film. From what I saw, The Fourth Angel probably would have never gotten a theatrical release because it’s simply too old-fashioned to be marketed to today’s action fans.
I haven’t read the book, which the film is based on so I can’t comment on how faithful the film is but the film itself is rather sloppy and really doesn’t say anything at the end. Being a huge fan of the Death Wish series I’m a sucker for revenge stories but this one here isn’t a very good one. The biggest problem is that the film tries to be a lot smarter than it actually is. There are all sorts of side plots dealing with the government, which come off as silly and really take away from any drama the film has going for it.
Another problem is the fact that the film is just downright non-believable. Even if you overlook how stupid all the inside information is you still won’t be able to stop laughing seeing Jeremy Irons running around like Bruce Willis killing everyone with various weapons. Irons is a very good actor and gives a decent performance here but he’s not an action star. The tender moments dealing with the death of his family are very moving and Irons perfectly shows his acting talents here. However, as soon as the bullets start flying Irons seems to be lost not knowing what to do. Usually he just fires away and gives a funny face expression. Forest Whitaker is very good in his small role as a FBI agent.
The Fourth Angel tries to be everything from a political thriller to a family drama to an action film but in the end there’s really no point to the entire thing. None of the various plot twists mix together very well and in the end the viewer can’t really care what’s going to happen to the lead character or the hijackers. The hijack scene plays off very well but that’s pretty much all the film has going for it. The Fourth Angel is the type of film you'd see at three in the morning on the USA Network.
VIDEO---The movie is shown widescreen (2.35:1) and is enhanced for 16x9 televisions. The picture quality is pretty good throughout, although there are some minor problems. There are a few speckles that pop up and some of the darker scenes contain some light grain. There’s also some minor edge enhancement, although it never gets too distracting. The colors and skin tones look wonderful throughout however. A P&S version is also included on the disc.
AUDIO---You’ve got the option of a Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround track and a 2.0 Surround track. I listened to the action scenes with both tracks and I personally preferred the 2.0 track. The 5.1 is pretty flat throughout without very good separation and the dialogue goes up and down on various scenes. The hijacking scene is also very disappointing audio wise because it packs no punch whatsoever.
EXTRAS---You get a theatrical trailer (16x9) and trailers for other Artisan films.
OVERALL---I’m a fan of Jeremy Irons and revenge films but the two simply don’t mix, which is proven here with this film. The political side of the story is a joke and the revenge factor is pretty much thrown out the window due to the silly faces Irons gives every time he shoots a gun. The DVD features a decent video transfer but the 5.1 track is really lacking.
Release Date: August 19, 2003