44 Minutes: The North Hollywood Shoot-Out is based on the real events of February 28th 1997 that took place in Hollywood, California. Two robbers, wearing body armor and armed with machine guns, decided to rob the Bank of American in North Hollywood. They didn't pull it off and the LAPD was all over them. Given that they had the armor and better weapons, the two robbers held off the cops and SWAT units for 44 minutes in what turned out to be the most violent shoot-out in modern American police history. The film 44 Minutes covers the events of the shoot-out but adds in a human angle by introducing some of the cops involved before the events. The human side gives some purpose to the meaning and end result of the violent shoot-out.
44 Minutes: The North Hollywood Shoot-Out is presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. The production quality isn't all that great here. I make mention of that as it carriers over a bit in terms of visual clarity. The image is soft and somewhat murky. Lower budget films often suffer from this so I don't see it being a fault of the DVD at all. Another factor further hampering the issue is the presence of grain. Some is likely intended, but given the amounts in some of the darker scenes, I can't see that being a favored result. Detail is all about gone in several of the darker shots. Colors, contrast, and black level all fall into the okay category. There not bad but not spectacular at all. A lot of that again falls back to the production quality. 44 Minutes probably could have looked a touch better in certain places. Even so what you do get is not bad at all and doesn't really take away from any enjoyment you might get from the film.
A Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track is included for this release. The audio features a rather loud music background that often is overbearing. I say that in regards to it almost always being there, constantly loud and proud. Other sounds and effects can easily be heard, but it just seems like they should have slacked off the music a touch. During the gun battle, the surrounds are very active as are the left and right fronts. Ricochets and bullets smashing stuff will awash your senses. The only negative with that is that some seem out of place, which audio designers just threw in too much without going for accurate placement. Often front to back and left to right sounds seem swapped. Maybe it is just supposed to be utter confusion, but I think the makers just didn't spend that much effort on placement. Dialogue was fairly clear and free of distortion. Much like the video, the audio has room for improvements but overall is still quite entertaining.
Extras include a behind the scenes featurette, a promo featurette on the TV show The Shield, plus some trailers for some like minded Fox film releases.
44 Minutes: The North Hollywood Shoot-Out isn't a great film by any stretch. The dialogue is laughable, the characters are not that well acted (except for Van Peebles who comes across as a real person), but the tension of the shoot-out makes it worth your while. The violence is gore soaked but it is effective in presented mindless chaos as the two robbers just unload bullet after bullet into the LAPD and SWAT officers and any and all things surrounding them. Even though the events are heavily, and I mean heavily dramatized, 44 Minutes still gets the message home thanks to the pure carnage of the shoot-out. For that the film gets my recommendation. Fox has released a decent DVD of the film. The film was a cheapy so visually it doesn't look that good. The audio has moments of greatness but for the most part seems like they went overboard. Though not perfect the film makes for a great rental or a purchase if you want to own a film with a length shoot-out.
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