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Tank 432 (Blu-ray Review)

Ben Wheatley’s name being attached to this latest collaborative distribution effort from Scream Factory and IFC Midnight, titled Tank 432, brings me a little bit of enthusiasm and expectation. I don’t know much about Wheatley’s cameraman turned director, Nick Gillispie, but he shot the movie Wheatley made that put him on my “list”. That would be Kill List from a few years ago, which turned heads with how awesome it was. If you haven’t seen that one, try and find it and give it a watch as soon as you can. Its a bit of a genre mish mash, with familiar thematics, but done in its own sort of way. Tank 432 is being sold as a military thriller that “unfolds like a delirious, pulse-pounding puzzle” and a “a mind-bending plunge into hallucinatory terror”.  I’d not heard of it til now, but am eager to see how this one delivers.  It will be available on both Blu-ray and DVD on April 4th, so get your pre-order in now.

Film 

Under siege by a mysterious enemy in an apocalyptic, war-torn landscape, a band of mercenary soldiers, hooded hostages in tow, seek refuge inside an abandoned military tank. But their sanctuary soon reveals itself to be a steel-walled prison. As the group succumbs to claustrophobia, paranoia, and increasingly disturbing delusions, it becomes clear that the real threat may lie not outside, but within.

Nick Gillispie’s debut is a decent little confined space thriller that might either hold on to its big reveal too long or stays in the tank a bit much. Granted, I know that’s the whole point of the film, but while its sitting there holding back, not enough interesting things or clues are being revealed to keep us invested as to what these shenanigans are all about.  You get a repetitive carousel of events that seem to happen and repeat, yet some of those are just conversation that really feels like the film just throwing something in there. Its not all bad, I know I’m sounding overly negative, but its just qualm I had watching it.

The cast of this film feels pretty dominantly Irish in nature. They all do a rather fine job as an ensemble.  Hellboy’s Rupert Evans is sort of our defacto lead, or very much the same purpose as the character he played there.  Michael Smiley is given one of the more fun and colorful roles in a film full of completely serious people. April Pearson really had some scene stealing ability though.  She manages to hold up with the best of them in her moments and brings a different angle than what everyone else in the tank is bringing.

Tank 432 is merely just an all right little mystery-thriller in military form.  I do enjoy the whole “random conflict” angle as to what they are fighting for as its not too important.  Its confined quarters angle is also something I didn’t really see coming from this (I didn’t watch a trailer or read a synopsis beforehand, went in cold).  It would work as a TV movie really well and that’s kind how it feels like when watching. I don’t mean that as a pick at the film either, more of a compliment.  If you’re interested at all, keep it to a rental to check it out first instead of just buying the film blind.

Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1

Layers: BD-25

Clarity/Detail:  Tank 432 comes with a pretty solid and standard looking picture quality for the IFC Midnight Scream Factory releases.  This one is on the better side though. It was no doubt shot digitally, but has a kinda grain on it that would suggest film. Its a crisp and sharp image, being helped by the fact that the image is washed out. There are plenty of details to be had, whether they be spit coming out of people’s mouths, dust floating in the air, uniform textures and other coarse things.

Depth:  Depth is rather just solid and on the average side of things. There is solid spacing between foreground and background characters and objects. Characters do move free feeling with minimal blurring or jutterriness majority of the time.

Black Levels: Blacks are pretty solid here and come with a bit of a green hue at times. The darker the scene, the heavier the grain look is. No crushing was witnessed on this viewing for the review.

Color Reproduction:  While the overall look feels like color was zapped out of it, there are a couple points of emphasis in the film that stick out.  The orange prisoner jumpsuits pop really well, as does a glow stick used to light the interior of the tank in the film.  There’s a weird sort of “vision” at one point that does bring color back into this thing and it does make for a bolder image with stronger greens, reds and such (There are a bunch of flowers shown with purples and more exotic colors that flare up nicely).

Flesh Tones:  Skin tones are consistently washed out like the rest of the picture and are like that throughout (Except the above mentioned “vision”). Facial features like camouflage paint, stubble, wrinkles, scuffs, dried blood, bruising and more look well documented in medium and close-up shots.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean

Audio 

Audio Format(s): English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, English 2.0 DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English, Spanish

Dynamics:  Tank 432 features a pretty rock solid 5.1 track that delivers above average most the time but then takes it over that from time to time. It features fully realized environments in a 360 degree experience. Foley effects have plenty of distinct depth to them, with a lifelike quality, especially in a lot of the film’s quieter moments. There is also a healthy balance with those effects, the music in the film and its vocals that make a for a good, clean time. This one featured some parts that really surprised me.

Height: N/A

Low Frequency Extension:  Gunfire, explosions, knocking on the tank and a lot of the more “expected” kind of work gets a good bounce from the subwoofer. It hits good and better than most of these IFC Midnight movies usually do.

Surround Sound Presentation: There are some definite treats to be had in this 5 channel mix. Probably the biggest highlight of the film has all the main characters stowing away in a just found deserted tank while outside forces are knocking on it from all over.  It really plays with the entire room and all five channels going in odd succession and traveling.  This mix also features some really well done center channel involvement with action and effects too. The use and precision of the 5 speakers with this mix really took me by surprise and proved pretty impressive for the kind of movie this is.

Dialogue Reproduction: Dialogue is crisp and clear. It also distorts and displays well with the given environments.

Extras 

Aside from the trailer, Tank 432 comes with nothing.

Trailer (HD, 1:27)

Summary 

Tank 432 is a solid little military-horror thriller that feels like something that’d be more fun if you were looking for something to watch and caught it on TV.  This Blu-ray take on it features a solid image in terms of transfer quality and a really fun audio track.  Bonus features aren’t present, so you gotta really like to the movie to buy and if you do, make sure its a good pricepoint.  My real recommendation on it though is to just rent the film in some way, shape or form.

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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