• Probability Zero



    Released by: Umbrella Entertainment
    Released on: July 5th, 2017.
    Director: Maurizio Lucidi
    Cast: Henry Silva, Luigi Casellato, Riccardo Salvino, Ezio Sancrotti
    Year: 1969
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    The Movie:

    When Probability Zero begins, a British Spitfire goes down, crash landing in a Norway currently under Nazi occupation. Inside the plane was a new radar system that the Allies had hoped would turn the tide of the war, and now it lies in enemy hands. When the Germans realize what they have, they take it to a secret underground base where they intend to take it apart and hopefully be able to mass produce it, using the Allies’ technology as their own.

    Of course, the good guys can’t just take this lying down, right? Enter a tough guy named Duke (played to the hilt by the inimitable Henry Silva). He’s chosen to lead a team of crack commandos on a suicide mission into occupied Norway to get that radar back, no matter the cost.

    And that’s more or less it. As far as the plot goes, this one is pretty much a by the numbers affair, offering little in the way of twists or surprises but plenty in the way of well-worn war movie clichés. But you know what? It works. We’ve seen all of this before – the commandos skulking their way behind enemy lines, the underground fortress that at first seems impossible to get into, a sympathetic sex pot willing to use her feminine wiles to distract the bad guys, and of course, the requisite scene where our rag tag group of heroes dress up like members of the Third Reich to sneak past the enemy and make their way into the base. It’s basically The Dirty Dozen 101, but director Maurizio Lucidi keeps the pace quick and the excitement levels high even if the script, written by a young Dario Argento, can’t be bothered to reinvent the wheel.

    Really though, the big reason to check this out (aside from the curiosity factor stemming from Argento’s involvement which no doubt ties into the fact that his father, Salvatore Argento, produced the picture) is the casting of the mighty Henry Silva in the lead. Few actors have the ability to play ‘cool as ice’ characters with the sort of style and completely awesome tough guy screen presence that Silva manages to bring to even his lesser roles, and Probability Zero is all the better for having him in it. The other cast members (mostly Italian character actors, some like Luigi Casellato and Franco Giornelli more recognizable for their work in genre fare than others) are all fine. They look the part, grizzled and appropriately tough, but they’re all fine in their respective parts.

    As to the action scenes, Probability Zero has an appropriately gritty feel to it that serves these sequences well. It operates under the tried and true ‘War Is Hell’ formula popular in the sixties and as such, none of the characters are really safe. This lends the shoot outs and action sequences an air of suspense that wouldn’t be there had the movie gone in the other direction and ensured that none of our heroes would prove expendable (a trait more common in the American war movies of the fifties). This isn’t all that original but it is well done – plenty tense and exciting with a fun lead from Silva sealing the deal.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    Probability Zero arrives on DVD from Umbrella Entertainment framed in 1.85.1 anamorphic widescreen in a transfer taken from an unrestored print. While this is watchable enough, keep your expectations in check as it’s clear that no cleanup work was done here. As such, expect a fair amount of print damage, plenty of color fading, some contrast issues resulting in whites looking a bit too hot, and black levels that sometimes look closer to a dark grey. Again, it’s watchable, but it’s definitely not the best the movie could have looked.

    An English language Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono track is the only audio option on the disc. Quality matches the video transfer, in that it’s serviceable enough but not without problems. There’s hiss throughout and occasionally some of the dialogue is a bit muffled. There are no alternate language options or subtitles offered for this release.

    There are no extras on the disc, not even a menu screen.

    The Final Word:

    Probability Zero will no doubt have some appeal to Eurocult fans because of Argento’s involvement, but the fact of that matter is that this is basically a fairly generic WWII action film. Silva is fun to watch in the lead, playing the tough guy role well, and the movie delivers some pretty decent set pieces. Entertaining for sure, if maybe not essential. Umbrella’s DVD release is passable, but unremarkable.

























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