25 December 2009 | rsoonsa
A Listless Melodrama That Is Readily Assimilable Into An Orwellian Memory Hole.
The single most attractive element of this largely unsatisfactory yarn is the camera-work, with the work's setting being at and near Nairobi, capitol of Kenya. The cinematographer, as a very welcome alteration from the standard, is clearly resolved to avoid the customary faunalogue treatment for films shot in Sub-Saharan Africa with its herds of countless wildebeest, opting in its stead for sensible utilization of the ubiquitous penetrating Kenyan light. Unfortunately, the balance of the production is rather less pleasing. Roy Baxter (Daniel J. Travanti), an authoritarian, highly successful businessman, and recent widower, is firmly opposed to the career made by his daughter Christine (Jennifer Grey), a research physician who has decided to toil in Kenya while searching for a cure to end African Trypanosomiasis "Sleeping Sickness". He flies to Africa with an idea of inducing Christine into returning with him to the United States where he would then financially back her scientific quest, but she displays no interest in leaving neither her medical investigations nor her bush pilot fiancé Alan (Daniel Gerroll), who is a persuasive factor in her refusal of her father's offer. When a mob of "poachers", blacks unaccountably led by a Boer, and apparently comprised solely of homicidal maniacs, assails the compound where Christine works and Roy is visiting, a touring United Nations funding official is slain, the murder subsequently being attributed to Baxter, who then must deal with absurdly inept (and dangerous) police and government officials, along with a non-supportive U.S. Embassy, relying eventually only upon his daughter's epidemiological expertise as he strives to save himself from being convicted and hanged. This particularly unrealistic melodrama is directed without a sense of style and is additionally burdened by a disjointed script that is underscored through highly clichéd and wooden dialogue. Travanti, an accomplished performer, must characterize an almost complete and instantaneous reversal of his position statements during the course of the story, an about-face that is unpersuasive. Although the film's action will hardly further Kenyan tourist trade, it is rewarded from Bernard Gribble's adept editing of a film made for television.