20 October 2013 | antonjsw1
Enjoyable and entertaining in an old fashioned way
While this film not a hugely profound experience, and has been sanitised for a mainstream audience, it is nevertheless enjoyable and entertaining. Action auteur John McTiernan tries his hand at a different genre, and for the most part, actually succeeds very well. He crafts an easy-going, stylish and witty film that while mainly dialogue driven is engrossing and well-paced right up to the films conclusion.
However, it is the conclusion that is the main weakness of the film. The film sets everything up plot wise very well, and I was expecting something more spectacular regarding the films climax. There was a great opportunity to have a much greater set piece as the audience never really sees that actual impact of the series of events that take place in the film's final act play out – too much is implied by jumping events forward to the aftermath of a major event.
Filmed on location in the Mexican jungle (doubling for the Amazon) McTiernan gets some very good performances from the Native American actors. While Lorraine Bracco in my view came in for too much criticism. Initially she does not seem to have a grip on her character and the performance comes off as forced – and is dangerously close to wooden. However, as the film goes along her character evolves well and gradually becomes more likable and warm. What probably complicates matters is she is up against the trenchant screen presence that is Sean Connery. Yet again he absolutely dominates the film by sheer charisma, and his flawed Robert Campbell character is truly engaging and carries the picture – but also makes Bracco's performance appear second rate for a large chunk of the film. However, Bracco getting a Razzie nomination was just an excuse for a bit of celebrity bashing.
Director McTiernan is ably supported by excellent technical contributions, most notable Don McAlpine's excellent photography, but particularly Jerry Goldsmith's outstanding score, which elevates the material and creates a terrific atmosphere. It is particularly effective in heightening the moments of tension towards the film's climax.
Overall, an enjoyable film that is marred only by Bracco's uneven performance at the start of the film, and a rushed in unsatisfying climax.