44 Minutes

44 Minutes (2003)
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
Cast: Michael Madsen, Ron Livingston, Mario Van Peebles

I still vividly remember the 1997 North-Hollywood bank robbery in which two heavily armed bank robbers held the police at bay for almost an hour. ’44 Minutes’ is a film adaptation of the events of that fateful day and it manages to conjure up these images as the world watched in shock and horror the disregard for human life that was put on display there by these bank robbers. Fortunately they were put down for good before they were able to escape and maybe try again some other time, and the film shows the courage, bravery, determination and willpower of the LAPD put on display that day.

Shot in a pseudo-documentary style, the film varies in its image quality from razor-sharp scenes to more grainy and gritty looking imagery. The picture is always clean however and the transfer has good definition. Color reproduction is meticulous and without flaw, and the black level of the transfer makes sure the image has plenty of depth and good shadows. No notable edge-enhancement or compression artifacts are evident.

The DVD contains a 5.1 channel Dolby Digital track that is very aggressive and active at times, skillfully recreating the hail of bullets the officers found themselves in. You will hear impacts all around you and bullets ricocheting from the front to the rear, making for an incredibly realistic and frightening presentation at times. The frequency response is very good and the dynamic range manages to add plenty of power to the mix.

One could argue that ’44 Minutes’ is nothing but a glorification of the LAPD and I would probably agree but at the same time I have to add ’Deservedly so!’ The response of the LAPD to the incident and the success of these actions speak volumes for a police department that has more than enough image problems. I’m typically not a big fan of these exploitative and sensationalist films but through the erratic images seen on the news these days it was not always possible to follow what was going on. ’44 Minutes’ gives people a better change to understand the severity of the incident as well as the actions that lead to the highly publicized outcome. The only thing that actually upsets me is the fact that the families of the bank robbers will most likely receive residuals from this production, something that they hardly deserve.