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Paramount Home Video presents
Homeland Security (2004)

"So, what created the monster?"
- Joe Johnson (Scott Glenn)

Review By: Rich Rosell   
Published: August 22, 2005

Stars: Tom Skeritt, Scott Glenn, Grant Show
Other Stars: Leland Orser, Marisol Nichols, Kal Penn, Beth Broderick, Megan Gallagher, Tracy Scoggins
Director: Daniel Sackheim

MPAA Rating: R for some violence
Run Time: 01h:28m:02s
Release Date: August 23, 2005
UPC: 097368026346
Genre: drama

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
C DB-B- D-

DVD Review

Here's an entry in of my least favorite categories—the old television-pilot-disguised-as-a-movie movie—a surefire way to leave plot points dangling and unresolved. This time, the backdrop is post 9/11, with the creation of the Department of Homeland Security and a story that the back cover promises to be "a complicated tapestry, full of intersecting threads and patterns," which of course reinforces the whole open-ended storylines of a number of characters that were meant to be further developed, were this proposed series to have aired.

It didn't. So Paramount has elected to package Homeland Security as a standalone, giving it cover art that makes it look deceptively like a Tom Clancy-style action film. And while there are some small-scale military action sequences, the core of this one is the standard dramatic crossover of various characters, connected by the creation of a department to theoretically unify communication and information as the hunt for terrorists escalated in the days following September 11th. It's made-for-TV material repackaged as something its not. Such as "complete."

Tom Skerritt plays a wise but retired admiral brought back into the game, and Scott Glenn plays a gruff operative who can handle warfare as effectively as he can teach a class of wide-eyed field agents about terrorism basics. There's a handful of subplots—like Skerritt's daughter having a Middle-Eastern boyfriend or a pair of very aggressive FBI agents—none of which really reach any resolution because they're mostly introduced as building blocks for story arcs that would never come. In fact, the ending sports a cliffhanger that would be perfectly acceptable as clichéd subplot on television, but as a standalone it leaves a funny aftertaste, like I just wasted 90 minutes on something with no measurable payoff.

Homeland Security was directed by television vet Daniel Sackheim (The X-Files, Law and Order, Las Vegas, Harsh Realm), and the fault isn't necessarily with him. He was stuck with the setup, and that's what he delivers. The whole thing moves predictably like any number of made-for-TV flicks that have come before it, introducing the various stock characters, setting up conflict, and providing small-budget action scenes that try to look large. There's a lot of overstating the obvious, and the dialogue gets a little ham-handed. There is lots of "screw the consequences" and "why didn't we see it coming" kind of talk, but Glenn and Skerritt contribute a couple of watchable performances—as does Leland Orser in a supporting role—though they're ultimately not allowed to become much more than caricatures that never get fully developed.

This is the kind of release that will probably end up irritating people more than entertaining them, in part because of the underlying incompleteness. Watching this, it's apparent it is a series setup, and without the weekly expansion of the subplots, Homeland Security ends up feeling like a rip off that Paramount is just trying to recoup some cash on.

Rating for Style: C
Rating for Substance: D


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Nothing special about the transfer, though it is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. There's a bit of noticeable shimmer, but color accuracy is good—even during the intentional contrast effects used during the battle scenes—but without the vibrancy of a larger budgeted theatrical feature, and as a result the DVD ends up looking like a decent transfer of a television movie.

Image Transfer Grade: B-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishno

Audio Transfer Review: The 2.0 English stereo track is as unremarkable as the image transfer, an adequate carrier of dialogue with a minimal amount of directional movement of any kind.

Audio Transfer Grade: B-


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 16 cues and remote access
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: No extras at all, unless you count the 16 chapters.

Extras Grade: D-


Final Comments

The issue isn't whether or not Homeland Security would have been a good series or not, because we'll never know the answer to that. The issue is whether this 90-minute introduction—and its unresolved subplots—is worth a watch. It isn't.


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