(out of 5)
Meg Ryan and Russell Crowe star in this political thriller about a woman whose life is turned upside down when her engineer husband (David Morse) is kidnapped by a revolutionary army in a fictitious South American country. Crowe plays the hostage negotiations expert who helps get her husband back after months of being held. Sounds very interesting, but it’s lazily directed by Taylor Hackford, who doesn’t raise any momentum beyond a dull thud and who constantly underestimates the talents of his actors: Morse looks like he’s constipated for two hours, Crowe is left with little to do but stand around and look hunky and Ryan’s performance is rendered completely useless by a script that seems to have no idea what to do with her. Add to this the appearance of usually excellent characters like Pamela Reed and David Caruso whose performances, thanks to their trappings, are hokey and constantly uneven. The climax of the film is a battle in the jungle that tries to imitate an action movie but is too little too late. Ryan and Crowe have zippo chemistry between them, leaving the romance angle to fizzle helplessly on the back burner of the story without much interest. Hackford and scriptwriter Tony Gilroy, who respectively directed and wrote the stunning Dolores Claiborne, have neglected to repeat that successful union here, and shame on them for thinking that exotic locales and archetypal movie characters would overcome wooden dialogue and lackluster pacing.
Directed by Taylor Hackford
Produced by Taylor Hackford, Charles Mulvehill
Music by Danny Elfman
Production Design by Bruno Rubeo
Costume Design by Ruth Myers