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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
At it's heart it is a dramatic and enjoyable film - the padding is the problem
Peter and Alice Bowman are working on a dam in South America in the employment of a large oil company. When Peter is kidnapped the company bring in expert negotiator Terry Thorne. However when the oil company runs out of money due to no insurance, they take Terry off the case and he leaves for another job. However a pang of conscience brings him back to help Alice and he replaces the corrupt locals. As he tries to help get her husband back he also falls for Alice.
As a fan of David Caruso, I was annoyed that I missed this film at the cinema (I blinked and I missed it!) and by the time the video came out it had slipped my mind. Shown of tv last night was the perfect time for me to see it and, despite negative reviews, I actually quite enjoyed it. I think the problem is that the critics struggled to get past the handful of problems (more later) to find that the film was an effective, if talky, drama with a thriller edge. The premise is good and it allows tense scenes where Terry tough talks as well as scenes with Peter with his captors. It's not perfect in this regard as it is a bit talky but for me it was engaging - I got the impression from other comments that people had expected raging gun battles all the way through the film.
However what does damage the film is Alice Bowman. I can see the potential behind Terry and Alice's romance - it could have been another layer of drama. In reality it doesn't work a bit and only serves to take away from the main thrust of the film - their relationship never convinces and nothing of interest is actually done with it. Likewise the character of Alice doesn't really work either - I never believed she was emotionally going through the wringers to the degree the script suggested she would be. A big part of the blame for this must lie with Meg Ryan herself. She is miscast in the first place, but on top of that she is too pristine throughout the film - hair and makeup perfect no matter what and a stupid little hippie-girl personality that stops her being a real person. It is a bad performance and the film would have benefited from a shorter running time which lost the romance subplot and scaled back on Ryan's time.
However she is carried by a real star turn from Crowe. It may not be that clever a role but he does `tough' really well and he helps improve the tension of several scenes. Morse is a good actor and he does well here. The only downside of his performance is that he seemed fit and well outside of his makeup; I was looking for him to look thinner and mentally battered as the film progressed but he didn't - it's not his fault, I guess the film had no time to do this. Caruso gives the same tough performance he does in every thing he ever does so if you like that then you'll like him here - I do!
Overall this is an enjoyable film if you can get past it's major problems surrounding Alice and Terry's relationship. Script-wise this aspect was weak on paper, but a comparatively rubbish turn from the miscast Meg Ryan just makes it all the weaker. Thank god that the basic premise is tense and the male leads' tough talking is good fun.
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