Americans Alice and Peter Bowman have traveled from third world country to third world country working on humanitarian projects. They are currently in Tecala, a country nestled in the Andes, as Peter, an engineer, has been hired by QUAD Carbon, an oil company - the moral "enemy" - to lead a project to construct a dam to prevent what is the constant flooding in the country. Alice and Peter eventually learn that QUAD Carbon cares nothing about the dam, which is just a smoke-screen to get an oil pipeline approved and built. Despite loving each other, they have had problems in the marriage of late because of being in Tecala, where Alice has not been able to find her place, and needing to deal with the aftermath of Alice's recent miscarriage. On his way to work one day, Peter, along with a group of others, are random kidnap victims of left wing guerrillas, the Liberation Army of Tecala (ELT), whose reason for being has changed from a political agenda to a monetary one, primarily getting ... Written by
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What happens in real life will inevitably have an effect on the reel one. Tom Cruise learnt that with his strange antics in real life - his screen one suffered with a less than expected stellar box office for M:I:3 despite positive critical reviews. Way back in 2000, Russell Crowe and Meg Ryan learnt that too, with their rumoured romance while shooting this movie, one of the many reasons resulting in this becoming a box office bomb.
I felt that it was not a bad movie actually, given the story which I found interesting in the first place, for its extremely distant relation to what I'm doing, and being an action adventure movie, it works with its fair share of big action sequences.
Russell Crowe plays Terry Thorne, a consultant in the Security and Crisis Response Unit of Luthan Risk International. His job is to negotiate the safe return of Kidnap and Ransom (K&R) victims around the world, and of course, this brings him frequently to where the action is, during the payment of ransoms and the extraction of hostages. He yearns for a management role, but as always, if you're an excellent field operative, you're played to your strengths out there.
Which brings him to his latest client, Meg Ryan's Alice Bowman, whose husband Peter Bowman (David Morse), an employee with the biggest international oil firmed, gets kidnapped by chance during a raid in Ecuador. There are numerous scenes in the movie to perk your interest in this much behind-the-scenes industry of K&R, the terrorist(?) groups' motivation, and how the entire business is conducted, with the engagement of peers as well as the involvement of shady government personnel.
There are many fine touches that might go unnoticed, like how network of contacts and peers are milked, cooperation extended, the wheelings and dealings of large multinational corporations, and politics in general. But the focus moves quickly towards a micro one, that between Thorne and Alice Bowman, as he accomplishes to build her trust in him that he's the best in the business and knows what he's doing.
Perhaps this is one of the rare movies that allowed Crowe to be an Australian (and keep the accent) in a Hollywood production. His Thorne is oozes enough machismo to carry the action through and is credible enough to be believed as a veteran in the business. Meg Ryan this time round has a more serious character to play, albeit at times a weepie one, steering well clear of the pretty ditzy blonde comedic roles she has become accustomed to. They had probably shot some love scenes for this movie, but I suppose the bad press resulted in those scenes ending up on the cutting room floor. The romance between the character was also almost squashed out, save for the out of place suggestion of a strong physical attraction which rears its ugly head in the second half of the movie, slowing the pace down a little without much mature development. I thought that should it had been removed entirely, it'll probably end up a stronger movie, with Thorne more in character as a mission driven individual.
The first David, David Caruso, is finding a new lease of life back in television with CSI, since branching off to movies after NYPD Blue didn't augur too well for him. I thought his performance here was nothing much to shout about though. However David Morse, who usually plays supporting roles, put up an adequately engaging Peter Bowman as an executive caught in the wrong place at the wrong time, and examines the fear and desperation of a man kidnapped and constantly at the wrong end of a gun barrel.
The theme song by Danny Elfman is addictive (time to hunt it down), and the end credits was played over a helicopter view of the entire Ecuadorian landscape, just beautiful to look at. Clocking at just over 2 hours, it provided some good entertainment for a lazy Sunday afternoon.
Code 3 DVD contains the behind the scenes making-of documentary (13" 40'), the theatrical trailer, and the feature length audio commentary by director Taylor Hackford.
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