Time to Kill (1989)
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I won't bother with a summary of the plot. Most that I've read gives the wrong impression and makes me believe that most people who wrote those didn't really understand the film. And you need to understand it to some level, even if you cannot describe for yourself what it's actually about. This film is strange in a "Once Upon a Time in America" way- only shorter.
Many 'Hollywood' stars (whatever that may mean...) have played in lesser known Italian productions. It's known that many actors who are past their prime or slowly rising to it do this. Cage was not yet a real star when this was made. I'm not a fan of him. He's very good in some roles (Raising Arizona, Bringing out the Dead) and weak when he plays the hero. I don't really know what to think of him in this one, but he sure doesn't portray the typical hero main character. This film could have done without him, but the fact that he starred may be the only reason this one ever made it to DVD.
The supporting cast is good. Not one of them looks fake and they act as if they are really there. Solid support.
I have seen 3 films by Montaldo (Marco Polo, Sacco&Vanzetti and this one) and I think he is one of the greater directors of this time. Unfortunately, nobody knows him. This movie was his last in a long time (a break of 19 years). I think that this movie might have failed at the office, but from the way it is done I think that for Montaldo it was a personal project that he really liked.
The production is great. It's always enough. The dusty army camps, the claustophobic cities and the magnificent landscape all play a great part. It all feels very real. In some scenes you can almost feel the heat. The sound itself is nothing special, but the music by Ennio Morricone is very good. It's not a piece that you will whistle when in the shower, but it sure works great.
So this movie looks, feels and sounds just right. It doesn't serve the lessons learned from it on a golden platter, but that may be the biggest difference between Hollywood and euro-cinema all around. It might sound strange to give it an 8 and not recommend it to people, but that is what I do. If you are looking for action; avoid this one! If you are looking for a well made Apocalypse Now in a different time and setting, but with a bit of similar journey into a 'state of mind'(sorry if this sound corny but I don't know what else to call it) you just might enjoy this one a lot.
Although the story is a bit silly and far-fetched, Cage does a wonderful job portraying an outlaw soldier who thinks he's caught an incurable exotic disease.
The acting overall was very poor, even for a Nicolas Cage movie. One scene with a radio controller stands out as being so pitiful that I found it hilarious that this scene wasn't cut. The first 30 minutes of the film had almost no developed plot and I didn't know what was going on.
The story itself had the possibility of being decent but either the director was just bad or was trying too hard to put his own unique touch on the style of the film. I managed to watch the whole thing but I won't likely ever see this film again.