Set in northern Australia before World War II, an English aristocrat who inherits a sprawling ranch reluctantly pacts with a stock-man in order to protect her new property from a takeover plot. As the pair drive 2,000 head of cattle over unforgiving landscape, they experience the bombing of Darwin, Australia, by Japanese forces firsthand.
Escalating events begin when U.N. interpreter Silvia Broome alleges that she has overheard a death threat against an African head of state, spoken in a rare dialect few people other than Silvia can understand. With the words "The Teacher will never leave this room alive," in an instant, Silvia's life is turned upside down as she becomes a hunted target of the killers. Placed under the protection of federal agent Tobin Keller, Silvia's world only grows more nightmarish. As Keller digs deeper into his eyewitnesses' past and her secretive world of global connections, the more suspicious he becomes that she herself might be involved in the conspiracy. With every step of the way, he finds more reasons to mistrust her. Is Sylvia a victim? A suspect? Or something else entirely? And can Tobin, coping with his own personal heartache, keep her safe? Though they must depend on one another, Silvia and Tobin couldn't be more different. Silvia's strengths are words, diplomacy and the subtleties of ...Written by
Sujit R. Varma
Sydney Pollak has directed a lot of good films over the last 40 years, and this, though not his finest work, is one. But it's just 'good'. Pollak has a great sense of pacing and character development, and he puts both to work to good effect in this suspenseful high-stakes terrorism drama. Kidman and Penn deliver solid and memorable performances and are joined by an excellent supporting cast. The acting talent, clever though predictable plot, superior production and cinematography, and fearlessly quirky script are what makes this film work, despite a few rather absurd plot points.
Kidman unsurprisingly, dominates the screen with a powerful portrayal of a young South African translator for the UN, who overhears a plot to assassinate the genocidal president of her home country, Motambo. Penn plays a hard-nosed, recently widowed investigator assigned to the case. As the plot escalates, it becomes clear that Kidman herself is also a target and that she has secrets...
There are some problems with believability here. Most glaring is the fact that the intelligence agents and security people investigating Kidman and the plot to kill a genocidal African president in the U.N. are depicted as anything but intelligent. The identity of the perpetrator and the nature of the intended crimes should have been more or less obvious about half-way through the film, and the security team should have had a trap set and armed personnel crawling all over the entire building. It is also unlikely that anybody in Kidman's predicament would have been allowed to continue with unrestricted access to the UN, at virtually any time of day or night, more or less unwatched. And it is even more problematic that somebody with her background should be working at the UN in the first place. The actors' performances and the relationship which develops between the two main characters (which is really at least half the plot) help to gloss over the minor problems and make the film very entertaining and suspenseful. There are also some potentially powerful political messages just below the surface, but I never felt that these messages really emerged, and was left wondering if theyr were simply artistic flourishes or perhaps, posturing.
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