(out of 5)
A former army bigwhig and current DEA investigator (John Travolta) arrives on a Panama army base to interrogate a recruit (Brian Van Holt). The recruit was one of six soldiers who were on a training mission in the jungle with a ruthless leader (Samuel L. Jackson) until four of them turned up dead including Jackson himself. Connie Nielsen plays the base interrogator who works to get answers out of Van Holt, but her lack of expediency leads the base commander (Tim Daly) to bring Travolta and his unorthodox methods on the scene. The story that Van Holt tells ends up being similar but too different from the one being told by another survivor of the incident (Giovanni Ribisi, whose idea of playing a gay man is to make his voice sound like George Sanders with a cold), leading to a Rashomon-like investigation of the many variables of one situation. As usual, John McTiernan finds ways to make a film that transcends the trappings of the genre, and here contributes a rich visual style and thrifty pace to a cliched-riddled story. There are far too many predictable plot twists to make the film really exciting, but the few that manage to catch you off guard make for a reasonably memorable time. The acting is terrific and the character interaction is constantly entertaining.
Directed by John McTiernan
Screenplay by James Vanderbilt
Cinematography by Steve Mason
Music by Klaus Badelt
Production Design by Dennis Bradford
Costume Design by Kate Harrington
Film Editing by George Folsey Jr.
Cast Tags: Brian Van Holt, Charles L. Fails, Chris Byrne, Cliff Fleming, Connie Nielsen, Cristián de la Fuente, Curtis Ricks, Dash Mihok, Dena Johnston, Georgia Hausserman, Giovanni Ribisi, Harry Connick Jr., John Travolta, Jonathan Rau, Margaret Travolta, Michael Tadross, Nick Loren, Roselyn Sanchez, Samuel L. Jackson, Steven Maye, Tait Ruppert, Taye Diggs, Tim Daly, Timothy S. Wester