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Lions Gate presents
"We're using a Mersenne Prime Algorithm. That makes shadow tracking that much more difficult."
DVD ReviewDolph Lundgren has never risen to the action-star status he seemed destined for after The Punisher and Universal Soldier, and he has appeared in more than a few junky and forgettable action movies since then. The Canadian-made low-budget Hidden Agenda finds Lundgren in one of the more visually appealing of his recent films, but he is still a far cry from where he should have been by now, in terms of being a big-time action lead. He's not a great actor, but he has the look and he carries a gun well.
Jason Price (Lundgren) is a former FBI agent who now works freelance for the National Security Agency, helping them relocate witnesses that need hiding (at least I think that's what he does—the plot is a wee bit hard to follow). Price has developed the Daedulus Network, a complex security system that keeps informants safe via a series of "links" or "providers," which consist of a seemingly endless stream of human contacts located around the country that are tracked through his elaborate computer system. This system has something to do with thumbprint identification on microchips and PDA's, as well as an abundance of cheesy computer interfaces. The techo-jargon factor is pretty high in this one, and that only adds to the overall cornball-ishness of the network, which seemingly operates with only Price and three stock sidekicks.
Hidden Agenda wants to be one of those twisty, Byzantine conspiracy films, and the plot does its best to be Mission:Impossible-ish, so much so that at times I had no clue what the heck was going on. Aside from the inherent logical weirdness of Price's Daedulus network, there are just too many shadowy characters and not enough clarification on anyone's real purpose in being in the story, other than as potential bullet fodder. There are an endless parade of scowling men in trenchcoats, large caliber weapons, a mysterious assassin known as The Cleaner, and double crosses, and of course Dolph delivers one-liners on his way through all of it.
In contrast to Lundgren's action-less snoozer The Last Warrior, there are plenty of fistfights and gun battles here, though most of these are achingly dull. Director Marc S. Grenier does manage to stage a particularly effective one during the film's climax. It is set on the grounds of a palatial estate, where there is a massive gun battle among some creepy lawn statues.
Rating for Style: C+
Rating for Substance: C+
Image Transfer Review: Lion's Gate has released Hidden Agenda in what appears to be a 1.85:1 nonanamorphic widescreen transfer, though it is not indicated as such on the case. Colors are rich, and flesh tones retain a natural hue. Night scenes, of which there are many, suffer from loss in detail, with black level quality that is quite poor. Minimal grain, though a few white specks were evident.
Image Transfer Grade: C+
Audio Transfer Review: There is only one audio option, and it is a 5.1 Dolby Digital track. It's clean, though the higher frequencies do not seem to be well-defined overall, resulting in a somewhat flat sound field. Imaging is adequate, and dialogue is anchored solidly across the fronts. There are a handful of surround cues, mostly a result of score swells used during scene transitions.
Audio Transfer Grade: B
Disc ExtrasAnimated menu with music
Scene Access with 24 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish with remote access
Extras Review: No trailers. Not a thing, other than English and Spanish subtitles.
Once again we have a DVD where the cover art comes from who knows where, because it is certainly not from Hidden Agenda; no helicopters, exploding cities or machine-gun mounted humvees to be found in this film.
Extras Grade: D-
Final CommentsHidden Agenda has a top-heavy techno script loaded with too many gruff talking characters associated with too many governmental agencies, and they all want a piece of Dolph. While this is better than some of his recent outings, it is still only so-so.
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