Imagine my surprise that there was a miniseries made about the threat of bioterror, and that this cloak and dagger miniseries (that aired at some time on network TV) sported two Oscar winners, neither of them men! Anjelica Huston (Prizzi’s Honor) and Mira Sorvino (Mighty Aphrodite) are part of a wide ranging series that is set over several continents, and explores the possibility of a bio-terror attack in the US.
Based on the book by Robert Ludlum, the man responsible for t…e Jason Bourne series of books, along with a personal favorite in The Osterman Weekend and who I thought had died a few years back, The Hades Factor originally aired as a miniseries that on some network sometime and is now out on video. A bit of an eco-spy named (originally enough) John Smith (Stephen Dorff, SFW) travels in Germany and returns home after the government tells him about the mythical “ebola variant” that is threatening US shores. Despite some government bosses who have ulterior motives (LA Law’s Blair Underwood among them), Smith tries to find the roots behind the virus, which he finds out may actually lie within the secrets of the US government.
Now where do Huston and Sorvino play in all this? Well in equally unbelievable roles, of course! Huston is the US President, while Sorvino is a spy who is trying to get back to the US to inform them about this plot where Al-Qaeda is involved. And hey, there’s Colm Meaney (Layer Cake) later in the series near the end too, cool!
For all the drama and suspense, there are still gaps of common sense that you can drive a Mack truck of logic through, or at least see coming a mile away. For all the talk about these viruses and the deaths they are causing, there seems to be very little focus on the presumable panic that many would have when trying to get treated. I dunno, it’s just me. Plus there are the requisite references to the war on terror like a veiled John Walker Lindh subplot or a lack of WMD joke, hardy har har. And for a miniseries with a lot of references to US sites in and around my area, the dramatic liberties seemed to remind me that the filmmakers couldn’t buy champagne on a beer budget.
This was presumably filmed in high-def, so that means you get a 5 channel Dolby track. It’s quite good, with a lot of subwoofer action and the occasional surround rumble for explosions, but the overall dialogue seems very soft at times, so it’s a little bit of a mixed bag.
The Hades Factor is presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, I’m guessing in the original television format it aired in. The video quality does have some problematic moments (anything filmed in night vision usually does), but this is a film with a brighter color palette than expected, most everything appears to reproduce well, save for some edge enhancement issues.
Another miniseries without any extras to speak of. What a shame.
For all its faults and general goofiness, I still found The Hades Factor to be a decent miniseries with some suspenseful moments and an engaging story. While the execution of it was a little bit flawed, I still felt compelled to watch, either because of the emotional investment or the fact that I wanted to see it through. However, I’d recommend seeing it on a network repeat before renting or buying it.