Prison Break: The Final Break (Blu-ray)
Directed by Brad Turner, Kevin Hooks
Studio: Twentieth Century-Fox
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 1080p AVC codec
Running Time: 89 minutes
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 English
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish, Thai, others
MSRP: $ 29.99
Release Date: July 21, 2009
Review Date: July 23, 2009
Not ever having watched a second of the series Prison Break during its four season run on Fox, I felt understandable trepidation over the prospect of viewing and then reviewing the final two-part series finale. Would I know who anyone was? Would I be able to follow the action? Would my ignorance of backstories concerning character relationships limit my understanding and appreciation of what was at stake in the program? As it turns out, my apprehensions were groundless. While it’s true that a more thorough understanding of the back histories of these characters might have enriched the dramatic through line for the finale and had I spent four years delving into the lives of these main characters, the ending might have been even more emotionally poignant. Still, Fox made a wise move offering this series finale episode as a standalone release as if it were a feature film. There is no trouble at all following the action or figuring out where allegiances lie, at least, for the most part.
On the day of her wedding to longtime love Michael Scofield (Wentworth Miller), Sara Tancredi (Sarah Wayne Callies) is unfairly arrested for the murder of Michael’s mother Christina. Placed in the Miami-Dade Women’s Penitentiary due to an overcrowding of the jail while she awaits trial, Sara is unaware that a hit has been placed on her head by Michael's sworn enemy Fernando Sucre (Amaury Nolasco). Once he learns of the impending danger to her life and the life of his unborn child, Michael and his brother Linc (Dominic Purcell) begin plotting a prison break for her requiring assistance from both men's prison bigshot T-Bag (Robert Knepper) and disgraced former FBI agent Alex Mahone (William Fichtner), who, unknown to the brothers, is hoping to regain his FBI status by informing on the brothers’ activities to his bosses who have FBI Agent Todd Wheatley (Chris Bruno) assigned to prevent the brothers from being able to do anything.
As the title suggests, with the series winding down, there was only enough time to stage one more sensational prison breakout, and the scouting, planning, improvising when things go wrong, and skullduggery that were hallmarks of the series’ previous escapes become the focus of this series-ending story, too. Sara’s rocky time inside the prison gets as much attention in the program as the extensive planning for the breakout do, and both directors handle the tough, menacing atmosphere of the prison (both men’s and women’s sections) quite well (though certainly the ambiance isn’t quite as threatening or malicious as in HBO’s well remembered Oz). There are some murky waters with the character of former agent Alex Mahone: whose side he is actually on seems a bit indistinct, but the sequences with prison rats T-Bag and Krantz are always attention-grabbers. The actual breakout itself seems a bit anticlimactic after all of the elaborate planning that has gone before, but some red herrings thrown in to fool the feds (and the viewer) work quite nicely.
These final two episodes really give Sarah Wayne Callies some prime emotional moments as the victimized Sara, and she emerges as the real star of this final program. Wentworth Miller makes his scenes count even with his understated approach to his role (a climactic recorded coda is beautifully performed), but Dominic Purcell seems underused as the older brother. Both Leon Russom and especially Robert Knepper as prison movers and shakers relish their snidely villainous characters making all of their moments particularly memorable. Lori Petty proves a threatening presence doesn’t have to come in a big package as the menacing "Daddy" while William Fitchner and Chris Bruno demonstrate dogged determination as agents trying to keep up with the crafty brothers.
The series is presented on Fox with a 1.78:1 aspect ratio and in 720p, and these 1080p transfers (AVC codec) are beautifully sharp and clean. Color is consistently good, and flesh tones are very accurate. Black levels can be very good to excellent in the nighttime sequences. A few flyover shots evince some moiré patterns that are momentarily distracting, but otherwise, the encode is devoid of bothersome artifacts. The program has been divided into 24 chapters.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound track is quite robust for a television series with excellent use of the pounding, driving music through the entire soundfield. What's more, some reasonably frequent ambient effects placed in the rears add weight to the prison scenes whether it’s during a fight, while the inmates are eating, or during the climactic breakout. LFE don't have much presence in the mix.
The disc offers two deleted scenes which may be viewed individually or in one 4 ¼-minute group. They’re presented in 1080p.
The disc additionally features television and movie trailers for The Marine II, 12 Rounds, Lie to Me, Dollhouse, Locked Up Abroad, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel.
3.5/5 (not an average)
The series finale of Prison Break certainly bring the exploits of Michael Scofield and family to a satisfying close. This Blu-ray release of the final two episodes combined into a movie-length program might not feature much in the way of bonuses, but it offers a sterling aural and visual experience that fans of the show will certainly want to encounter.
Edited by MattH. - 7/24/2009 at 02:50 pm GMT