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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I'll never look at Wesley Snipes or Linda Fiorentino the same way again. This is little more than some of the same liberal garbage we get from Hollywood, and it's no surprise it didn't get a wide theatrical release as it would have bombed.
Wesley stars as a disgruntled father who's daughter was killed in a school shooting, (even using one of the famous quotes from Columbine) and so Wesley decides that the best way to vent his anger is to become a sniper and hold hostage the wife of a gun manufacturer.
This movie tries to be tense but falls flat in every part. Reality gets bent when the gun manufacturers are *of course* all involved in illegal arms deals, and anti-gun Snipes is *naturally* a CIA trained sniper.
The premise is tawdry, Snipes wants to start a "public debate" on the second amendment, but trouble is I don't think Wesley would be open to any opposing views.
I dunno, I remember movies starting in the seventies reflecting on how the violence in our society was a symptom of larger things. In an earlier era Wesley might have wondered why the kid wanted to shoot his daughter, what was going wrong in our society, etc.
Now it seems with movies like this the fixation seems to be that by removing firearms and the people that make them all of our problems will be solved, and don't you dare think otherwise.
This was a very poor movie that tried to be gripping but ended up ripping off trendy headlines.
A low-key and seemingly missed thriller. Wesley Snipes provides a slow and unusually underplayed performance, with no physical fighting or glib one liners. In fact it's an extremely mature performance that shows what an overlooked actor he really is. An interesting and original storyline keeps you engaged and the continually moving camera, quick editing and fast paced story, heightens the tension as the pressures build. One of the surprising things about this film is the extremely small scale on which the movie is based, the focus switches between one room and a hotdog stand, with cuts to locations to bring in incidental characters. A thriller based around a clever idea, filled with tension, but just lacking an edge.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
While a somewhat interesting drama at times it is often ruined by the
preachy tone it takes with guns.
In this film the root of all evil is the second amendment. All the other ones are good but the founding fathers blew it on the second one. It is Hollywoods attempt to help spur gun control. The problem with the film is that it mentions nothing about personal responsibility and this was done on purpose. If the matter of personal responsibility were brought up then Hollywood would be one of the biggest offenders. With the high body count films....including this one Hoolywood is selling violence, gun violence for profit. If personal responsibility were brought up Hollywood would have to asks to many questions of itself. So it was dropped from the film entirely. So we have an ex-CIA sniper blaming everyone for his daughters death..despite the killer, never-mind the he was the killer of many, many people...it was his job.
We also get the blurring and distorting of the second amendment, which means that because our government has guns we should as well, lest we become under the thumb of another tyrant. Much like King George was to the colonists. It does not mean only a militia should have guns, which is what some would have you believe. When constitution was written nearly all citizens had guns...they had to, they need to put food on the table by hunting for it. Gun violence is by and large committed by those who do not follow the law or have personal responsibility. That said I am all for gun locks. If you have kids in the home and your kid dies because you did not use one you should be punished.
I think if this film would have added personal responsibility into the mix it would have been a much more interesting film. Instead Hollywood will not have anything to do with personal responsibility, it is bad for the bottom line and looking in the mirror they my find that they are the biggest offenders when it comes to gun violence. Funny how when Oliver Stone was called on this very fact he brought up personal responsibility. Tickets please!
Not in "Liberty Stands Still"; a taught drama in which Liberty (Fiorentino)
is a powerful, well connected corporate type who is held hostage in public
by a sniper (Snipes) secreted in a building and armed with a sniper rifle, a
remote controlled bomb, a cell phone, and oodles of hi-tech gadgetry. The
film is a stylish and highly improbable chess match drama in which Snipes
spends much time talking with Fiorentino via cell phone as he asserts his
agenda and Los Angeles gets busy trying to deal with the threat. Character
development is spread over the run time and the conclusion is somewhat less
than satisfying. However, the kinetics, visuals, drama, and spy stuff are
sufficient to make "Liberty...." a worthwhile and interesting escapist
Note - Though filmed in Vancouver according to this website, the film shows frequent aerial shots of L.A.
There's an interesting audience response to this movie. The director has
captured the audience in the movie theater and forced it to take
a look at the handgun issue...not by getting the audience's attention with car chases and breasts heaving up and down while sexy things run, like in an action film, but with a hostage taking. And everyone's in the trap, including the audience.
The hostage and the guy pointing the gun (Wesley Snipes) are trapped in their standoff for most of the film. Meanwhile layers peal away as we begin to understand more and more about the source of the pain and the reason for the target of the desperate action.
The audience likes to be on the side of some main character who is outside of the stand-off, the person that will cause strength and good to prevail; but the director has ingeniously put the audience identification into the stand-off: equally into the emotional trauma of both the hostage and the hostage taker. Eventually you begin to feel the absurdity and desperation of the situation; eventually you realize that both feel trapped, and consequently the audience has little relief from the situation.
There's no Arnold Schwarzenegger coming to the rescue by blazing bigger more illegal weapons, and that is exactly what is intended, in my opinion. The big pay-off in this film is that it actually makes the audience think! Uncomfortable for some, but certainly worthwhile as a political statement and interesting filmmaking.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I watched this on video last night. It wasn't even a blip in the movie
schedule in Japan, although "Bowling for Columbine" was in most theaters
when it came out. There are obvious reasons for the lack of attention
"Liberty Stands Still" received.
Some spoilers follow.
First, it was tedious. The drawn out disclosure of why Joe is doing this is supposed to be intriguing, but there is no tension to sustain the intrigue. Ironically, the realism of the offhand way he kills a few of the victims works against the drama of the movie by releasing some of the tension without a buildup to that release. There is another source of tension in the bombs, but since we never actually get to know Russel that well, we don't really care too much about him. He's been committing adultery with someone else's wife, so most people wouldn't have that much sympathy with him from a moral standpoint anyway. The other potential victims of the bombs are either people Skogland portrays unsympathetically or a faceless crowd. It makes it hard to care about whether the bombs go off or not.
That leads to another problem with the plot: there are no sympathetic characters. Again, this complexity is one of the things that works against it as a movie. Even Liberty, who is in the role of Joe's main victim, is shown to be unsympathetic at the beginning (she's cheating on her husband, she's indirectly responsible for gun running and so is supposedly aiding and abetting wars at home and abroad) yet we are somehow supposed to grow to like her at least a little bit by the end of the film. The only admirable things about her were that she tried to find a way out of her predicament, and kept trying to help others even if she was putting herself in danger.
A final major flaw was that the ending was anti-climactic. Obviously Kari Skogland could not make her villain into a demon without undermining her message, so some of Joe's threats are bluffs. He is made to appear serious by killing people earlier in the film, but the people he kills are people that no one could really care about--in many cases we don't know them well enough--or could not support without some ambiguity.
This movie's blatantly obvious message is anti-gun. Unfortunately Skogland displays a very poor understanding of the complexities involved in the question of gun-control. Joe states that the gun industry is huge, while in reality most manufacturers function barely in the black. Profits for the entire firearms industry in 1999 amounted to about $200 million. The CEO of a major corporation makes a median salary of $13 to $14 million and the highest paid make around $180 to $190 million. That's the amount that a single employee of the company makes versus the profits of an entire industry. Making guns is hardly the most profitable of businesses.
The line of reasoning that Joe follows is tenuous at best. By his logic, car manufacturers should be held responsible for the accidents they cause, drug manufacturers responsible for deaths from side effects, accidental overdoses, and suicides; and the power company for deaths through electrocution. I fully agree with one of Joe's statements, that Americans have forgotten about responsibility. Where he and I disagree is that I would not hold the manufacturer of a hammer responsible for a murder committed using the hammer; I would blame the murderer. In addition, we never find out for sure if the death he lays at Liberty's feet was intentional or accidental. He seems to think that issue is not worth considering and this allows him to skirt the issue of personal responsibility in his quest for "justice." While his blindness to the complexities of the situation could be seen as Skogland's presentation of a flawed narrator, given the overall treatment of the film it is likely that the overt message and tortured logic are the writer's own, not just the character's.
While this movie had some potential, it falls flat in many areas. The logic of the plot is forced, the characters are not developed to their full potential, and some of the virtues it does have are undermined by mistakes in pacing. If the promised complexity and ambiguity of the characters had been more fully developed, if the logic and facts of the plot had been more believable, if Skogland had built the dramatic tension in a more adept way, this could have been a better than average movie.
If you want to watch good movie about the issue of gun control, rent "Bowling for Columbine." You may not agree with Moore's message, but if you actually think about what he is saying, you have to admit that he raises some legitimate points. His approach is to ask questions to find the root causes of the problem. Moore raises more questions than he answers and by doing so invites the viewer to help find a solution for the very real problems to which he draws attention. It's not drama, but it is a decent treatment of the central issue in "Liberty Stands Still."
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
First, I'm a poor man's film critic. I like most of the movies I've seen,
whether they deserve it or not. Except Leonard Part 6 (don't
I liked this movie, not because of its actors (who did better than I could have done), or its script and dialogue (that was better than I could have written), or its overall production quality (that revealed no amateurish mistakes which I'm sure I would have made). I liked this movie because it clearly did, here in IMDB, exactly what Joe wanted to have happen - we're debating the wisdom of the Second Amendment, amongst other things, only we're carefully wording our positions to sound like a critique of the movie, or its plot, or the script.
To all of the other commentators out there: please stop whining about whether it's Yet Another Liberal Film From Hollywood. You have as much right to say what you want as they do. I think even the non-liberals are a little desensitized to the "everything in the media/movie business is slanted to the left" hew and cry. I know I am, and I'm not a liberal, but merely a thinking man (or so I hope). Just make your case, and stop worrying about Them.
[WARNING -- SPOILERS AHEAD]
Joe wants many things, not just the second amendment debate. I don't know, if my daughter was shot by a punk with a gun that I knew was almost hand-delivered to him by another man that I knew was corrupt... I can't say that I wouldn't feel some desire to make the corrupt man pay for his sins with his life. True, two wrongs don't make a right, and it still wouldn't have brought back my daughter, yet having the desire and acting on it are two different things. I'm sure I would want revenge, though I may not act on it. Joe wanted revenge, and clearly he was willing to act on it.
Did nobody catch the subplot (you know, the subtle one that was sort of shoved into your face with the dialogue)? That Victor Wallace was heavily guarded and a difficult target? That Liberty was the one that had the predictable schedule, whereby Joe might use her to draw out Victor? That Victor wrote his wife's life off from the first moment, and that Joe knew he would? That the only way Joe could get to Victor was to accuse him of being less than a man -- NOT by using his love for his wife during her time of greatest peril.
So why not a simple hostage scene, which would have given us, the paying audience (even if you watched on Cinemax, you paid for it) with the desired Fiorentino/Snipes combustion? Because Joe wanted his daughter's death to mean something more than simple revenge, I guess. Liberty suggested to Joe, "would your daughter want this?" But then, would his daughter want another little girl to be the victim of another punk with a gun, if there was something -- ANYthing -- that could be done to change it?
Or, for another reason: had Joe merely kidnapped Liberty, then Victor's henchmen, and the henchmen of the people in Victor's back pocket, would have eliminated Joe, and Liberty, and the supervisor of the building, and the neighbors, and anyone else standing too close... and the police (who Joe alleged were corrupted by Victor) would have blamed it all on Joe.
Whether you agree with gun control, or think that Joe was right when he said "I'm could be just another legal gun-owning American fighting the government's oppression of my freedom," or think that the answer lies somewhere a field, this movie, regardless of it's overall view-ability value, should inspire thoughts
Joe hit where he could, where it would hurt, and where it would make a difference. He knew it would also cost him his life (too many powerful people would want him dead, anyway). But, as he said, "It's a start."
So the debate has been going on, anyway. True, it's people that kill people, not guns, not bullets, not pits, not your heritage to your murderous ancestors, not teachers failing to enact safety measures, or anything else ourselves.
It's merely a sad truth that there are people who will kill other people, using any means they can. What we have to do is find a way to better teach a would-be killer that they let themselves down the most if they kill, whether by violating their own values, or by letting down the people that matter to them.
Joe took the violent man's way out. Funny thing -- so did the American colonists when they decided to set themselves free. That second amendment was awfully important back then.
So, did the end justify the means? Joe said "yes." What do you say?
It's a movie without a definitive answer (even if you think there was one), but one with a definite result after the fact. I have to admire it for that.
This is it... The beginning of the end of Wesley Snipes. He has gone
straight to video. He hadn't crossed into Seagal territory yet - at
this stage of his career. But he did later. Trust me. The plot is about
Liberty (Fiorentino) who is the wife of a gun manufacturer (Platt). She
is held hostage outside, in a Los Angeles park, by Joe (Snipes) who is
blaming his daughter's death on her.
How heavy-handed could this movie get? This is "subtlety" at it's worst. In a nutshell: "don't blame the person who pulled the trigger, blame the manufacturer." Besides that, the performances are strong. Snipes is always good. Fiorentino puts some energy into her role, but it still looks like she's sleepwalking. Overall, it's for Snipes fans only.
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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This movie is like a theater play. There's only one location and no
action. This can make good movies. Tape (www.imdb.com/title/tt0275719/)
for example is an excellent movie in my opinion. Baring entirely on
dialog and acting. Liberty stands still lacks these qualities and is
neither entertaining nor involving. It is however very annoying from
start to finish because the premise is totally unrealistic and lacks
any intelligence. I don't like movies where a bad guy (or eventually
not just bad Wesley the sniper) has godlike control over his victims.
Judging by the presence of a lot of comments with pro firearms opinions some people tend to think this movie tries to make a political statement against firearms. That is just foolish. Of course godlike control handed by a gun is THE ultimate way to market guns. Therefor rather than being an -though original- but failed attempt at an action movie without action, or a thriller without thrills this is a far far far to long commercial for guns, I say. Mabey there is some cleverness in this crap movie for passing as the opposite.
It gets two stars because just one star is reserved for ultimate crap.
Linda Fiorentino (Liberty Wallace) an international arms dealer who
sells to anyone...no questions asked. While out to meet her lover, she
receives a phone-call; the sniper (Welsey Snipes) who she is talking to
has her in his sights, and if she fails to do as she told, she will
die; and if her phone goes dead she will detonate a bomb that will
destroy a city block.
The idea is good, and a strong sense of tension is built up by the performances of Fiorentino and Snipes, but after a clever and intriguing build up the film does eventually fall flat. By the end you may feel that the film makers missed a good opportunity to both make a statement and make a cracking film.
6/10 If you like the concept - try phonebooth, it is better executed.
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