DVD Rating: ****

Reviewed by: Richard Mellor

Read Chris's film review of Stop-Loss

The distributors at Paramount are seemingly as pro-DVD customers as Kimberley Peirce is favourable towards American soldiers who have toured Iraq. For here’s a digital offering bulging with goodwill and consideration: if you like Stop-Loss the film, you’ll be in extras heaven with its home-viewing package.

Eleven – yes, you heard right – deleted scenes are almost all chunky and, intriguingly, reasonably revelatory. A succession of shred episodes detail Brandon and Michelle’s journey to track down Senator Worrell; much more of Ryan Phillippe’s hero’s sensitive side is displayed, along with an expansion of Alex Frost’s character, Shorty. If you’re curious as to why these scenes got the chop, the optional director’s commentary has the answers.

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Viewers are also able to watch the film as a whole with meticulous explanation and embellishment from Peirce and team.

Though a touch too sycophantic towards Peirce, the making-of documentary is instructive, interesting and, for once, just the right length (around 30 minutes). Particularly stunning is the effort involved in the film; Peirce spends hours on the phone to stop-lossed soldiers; actors are trained in military moves with military precision; the crew tries to imitate the countless army films floating around on the web.

Such is the effort, you feel thoroughly relieved the film turned out pretty well; then again, such was the effort that perhaps success was inevitable. Peirce also explains the choice of Tikrit as a filming location, and Phillippe, Joseph Gordon-Walker and Channing Tatum talk effusively about seeking out their characters. The only disappointment is the total absence of Abbie Cornish, a fundamental and excellent cog of the subsequent picture.

The boys are also dominant in the final, shorter featurette – entitled A Day in Boot Camp, it’s in fact a video of the week or so the film’s male actors spent in Texas, training very realistically in an army-style camp. Phillippe & co do countless chin ups, march in merciless heat and fake-shoot enemies on staged ‘missions’. Again, the energy, care and sheer pride invested in Stop-Loss stands out powerfully.

Reviewed on: 22 Aug 2008
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Stop-Loss packshot
Affecting drama about the bravery of modern soldiers in Iraq.
Amazon link

Region: 2

Ratio: 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen

Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1

Extras: Deleted scenes with optional director's commentary, Making Of Stop-Loss, A Day In Boot Camp, commentary with Kimberley Peirce and co-writer Mark Richard

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