Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Proof of Life, 2000

Todd Mason has the links for Tuesday’s Overlooked Films, Audio and Video over at his blog Sweet Freedom.

Proof of Life, directed by Taylor Hackford (Against All Odds, Devil's Advocate, and An Officer and a Gentleman), is an archetypal thriller with a time-tested formula that can be assumed to be a safe bet for a filmmaker—a man is kidnapped and held ransom and his frantic wife turns to a former special ops soldier to bring him back. Predictably, sparks fly between the wife and her husband’s rescuer.

I might not have liked this film much if the cast had been any one of less repute than David Morse, the victim, Meg Ryan, his wife, and Russell Crowe, the saviour. The three seasoned actors put in a fine performance—Morse as the tortured prey, and Ryan and Crowe who are wracked by a mixture of emotion and guilt.

When US oil company engineer Peter Bowman (Morse) is kidnapped by Leftist guerillas in South America and held ransom, his wife Alice (Ryan), already unsettled by a miscarriage and the transition to an unknown and hostile place, struggles to deal with the crisis. She has little faith in the local negotiator who is eyeing a share of the ransom pie. In desperation, she turns to Terry Thorne (Crowe), a professional mediator appointed by the oil company, to look for her husband. Reluctant at first, Thorne agrees to negotiate with the kidnappers and soon finds himself attracted to Alice, who, in spite of her professed love for her husband, feels likewise. But there is not much they can do about it.

The chemistry between Crowe and Ryan is handled very well; their mutual attraction never crossing ethical limits even as the pain of separation is written on their faces. I like David Morse who I think is a terrific supporting actor, and versatile too, as evident from his roles in The Rock (1996), The Green Mile (1999), and The Hurt Locker (2008), at least among such films that I have seen.

Recommended, if you like action films or the actors.

12 comments:

  1. One to keep an eye out for, I hadn't heard of it previously, cheers!

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    1. Col, it's a decent film with a fair share of action.

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  2. I liked this one when I saw it in the theater years ago. I agree the plot is pedestrian (and predictable), but, as you said, the actors along with solid directing made it something more.

    Great review.

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    1. Ben, thank you. I didn't touch upon Taylor Hackford's direction but you are right, it is one of two aspects that makes this film worth watching; the other being the cast.

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  3. Don't know that I've even heard of this one.

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    1. Charles, that happens to me a lot of the times, till I discover such films on cable.

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  4. I like both Morse and Ryan too, Prashant. To be candid, I'm not usually the action-thriller type. But they are both very talented, so I can see how they'd carry off the plot well.

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    1. Margot, I agree, David Morse is a very fine actor, and versatile too. I have seen very few of his films and I have liked them all.

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  5. A solid film, as I recall it, too.

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  6. I have always like David Morse, although I did not remember that he was in those movies you mentioned.

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    1. Tracy, Morse also starred in a nice sf drama called CONTACT alongside Jodie Foster and Matthew McConaughey.

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