Proof of Life



Jurassic Mark

SCORE: 2 Stars

Proof of Life features a miserable love triangle. The three major characters should indulge themselves in a ménage trois and then pull the pin on a hand grenade. The movie is unfocused and poorly edited. The film is also inconsistent in its political stance. Proof of Life is the kind of movie that lambastes the Russians (the best Hollywood enemies since the Nazis), but uses a fake South American country as the central location. Exactly which South American country is Castle Rock Entertainment afraid of? Actually they do pick on Columbia (as bonus bad guys), but we know they're just a bunch of drug dealers.

Proof of Life begins in the evil country of Russia. Juggernaut hostage negotiator Terry (Russell Crowe) single-handedly outwits hundreds of incompetent Russians, and saves the victim. Bravo. The opening scene establishes that:

1) Russell Crow is a brilliant, fearless hostage negotiator.
2) Russians are stupid and evil (despite their astrophysicists and world champion chess players).

Then the real crisis happens. That being the one where we meet the girl. Alice (Meg Ryan) and Peter (David Morse) live in a make believe South American country. Peter works for an oil company (big, evil and decidedly "North" American). We know their marriage has some "issues" because Alice and Peter have a fight the night before Peter is kidnapped by guerillas. The argument is a convenient (and annoying) trick by screenwriter Tony Gilroy to give the audience a reason to expect less than complete fidelity from Alice. PLOT SPOILER: Actually not much happens. But, like the song said, "a kiss is still a kiss."

Naturally, the oil company hires Terry to negotiate the rescue of Peter. If Terry can outwit the Russians, I'm thinking he can open a can of whoop-ass on some no-name Hispanics.

Proof of Life is never a terrible film. Crowe is top-notch. Ryan has the Ingrid Bergman role from Casablanca. She's married to a decent man, but he just doesn't quite do it for her. Proof of Life also has a great action climax. Director Taylor Hackford deserves credit for staging an exciting firefight.

Still, I can't help questioning a couple of scenes:

1) Why would Alice dress like Dharma from "Dharma and Greg" for an important meeting regarding her kidnapped husband?
2) Would Alice flirt with Terry right after seeing a picture of her husband's broken feet?

Proof of Life is about two people who ultimately do the right thing. I found that kind of boring.