19 December 2003 | rmiranda-1
McTiernan excellently weaves science, ethics and humor in this story about the search for a cancer cure in the jungle
A fine movie, not to be judged on the basis of Hollywood's usual recipe for storytelling. The eccentric scientist Robert Campbell (Connery) who has found a cure for cancer out in the jungle, is not able to reproduce its exact composition. Biologist Rae Crane (Bracco) biologist has dropped in from academia to be his judge and jury and decide on Campbell's continued funding.
The film pays a fair amount of attention to scientific detail (such as "running baselines" and using "experimental controls") interspersing it throughout with lively and shrewd exchanges between Campbell and Crane. To that they add mildly sarcastic observations on field work and fund-raising committees. Whilst this scientific sub-story line runs along, we are shown glimpses of life in a sympathetic tribe for which Campbell has become a sort of sugar daddy. Ethics and personal choice confront both scientists as they struggle with the decision to reserve the last bit of serum either for the good of humanity or the life of one of the tribe's children.
McTiernan has weaved all these elements excellently and Connery and Bracco play their roles so convincingly that you could be excused for thinking they may have scientific backgrounds in real life.
The film is a feast for educated people - which is probably the reason why many of the critics have missed the fine points and proceeded to rattle off some vitriolic commentary more aimed, in my view, at self-aggrandizement than constructive film criticism. One even complained that Medicine Man didn't quite match up to Die Hard. Now there is a proper comparison for you.