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
Jackie Chan received a script for the film (the only time he's been offered a dramatic role in a US film), but told his manager "no," feeling his English wasn't strong enough at the time for a dialogue-heavy role. He later ran into Nicole Kidman at the Huading Awards in China, and told her this story. See more »
In an early scene agent Keller (Sean Penn) is shown with a glass on a bar. The glass has about an inch of booze in it. Scene cuts to him removing his wedding ring and putting it in the glass... which is now empty. See more »
She wouldn't tell me her husband's name. She wouldn't even write it.
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Entry to the United Nations headquarters in New York (and being directed by Sydney Pollack) was enough to make Nicole Kidman sign up for this enjoyable, if not a little formulaic, political thriller. Hollywood's golden girl teams up with man of the moment Sean Penn in this well-paced and intense tale which unfolds against a backdrop of international terror and unashamedly draws parallels with the current political situation in Zimbabwe. Kidman adopts a satisfactory South African accent for the role of Silvia Broome, a UN interpreter who overhears a plot to assassinate a controversial African leader during his visit to the United States. Penn is Tobin Keller, a Secret Service agent assigned to investigate Silvia's claims and protect her from the assassins. But is Silvia telling the truth? Silvia's life is turned upside down as she becomes a target for the killers but a suspicious Kellar digs deeper into her past in a bid to find out what she is hiding. Pollack (who has a small part in the movie) scored a massive coup when he convinced Kofi Annan to allow filming inside the UN building for the first time. Even Alfred Hitchcock had to improvise when making the classic Cary Grant North By North West. The movie has some very strong opening scenes, shot on location in South Africa, and instantly grabs our attention. When the action moves to New York, Pollack (who brought us Tootsie, Out Of Africa and The Firm) creates an old-whorled vibe with grainy shots more reminiscent of the 70s, deliberately avoiding the neon lights of the Big Apple to create a dulled-down mood that sits much better with the film's content. Kidman and Penn handle their material well, putting in solid performances and the pair square up nicely on screen. Predictably, and annoyingly so, however, a chemistry develops between the two making for some scenes which would have been better left on the cutting room floor. Let's face it, the old adage of two strangers being brought together by circumstance and suddenly being able to open up and shed their baggage has all been done before. The moral of the story is also a little bit too Hollywood. We can admire its good intentions and even buy into the idea that we can change the world with words and diplomacy but it all becomes a bit nonsensical. But it is the movies after all and it's difficult to find fault with Pollack who has opted for a dialect-driven film as opposed to high-octane action scenes - although they do make a welcome appearance as the film reaches its climax. This is the thinking person's thriller and it's definitely worth a viewing.
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