31 January 2005 | bob the moo
As an action movie it is poor, but as a piece of writing it is shockingly simplistic and tasteless
Gordy Brewer is a good clean all-American type with a wife and young son and a selfless job as a fire-fighter. While his wife and daughter wait for him to collect them, they are caught up in a terrorist attack and die in the bombing. Brewer's loss turns to guilt turns to anger when he sees the Government involving themselves in political wrangling with Columbia rather than going after the evildoers. With the weight of American moral justice behind him, Brewer heads into Columbia to travel deep into the jungles, find the terrorist leader and kill him.
Those who claim that this film is a tasteless attempt to cash in on 11th September 2001 forget that it was made before that terrorist attack and that it was shelved until a later date however they are right in their claims that it is tasteless. In regards 11/9/01 the film was sold on the back of American anger and demands for revenge that the film pandered to with little thought at a time of healing the marketing of this film fed the fire and in return was fuelled by it. It is impossible though not to view this film in regards the subject matter because, although not offensively simple in regards the 11/9 attacks it is still about terrorism and, for the majority of the world, terrorism has been around for a long time (in my case, my life in Northern Ireland). With any awareness of the complex issues involved, many viewers will find this impossible to stomach thanks to its simplistic view of events and the solutions it puts forward.
The plot sees one man takes up weapons to deal with terrorists. Suggestions that talks and peace are the way ahead are dismissed; any discussion over "why" is brushed away by Brewer in his meeting with the terrorist leader and, at the end of the day, fighting terrorism is one big action movie where the good guys win and the sinister bad guys always lose. The script is so simplistic that it is hard not to feel sullied by it. As an action movie it is poor, partly because you cannot ignore the sheer offensive simplicity of the whole thing but mainly because it lacks excitement, enjoyment, thrills or entertainment value on so many levels. OK, if you want to see things go bang and non-white terrorists being beaten by American might then you may get something from it but for me it was just one big collection of action movies clichés wheeled out one after the other until I just couldn't care any more.
The cast do nothing to help matters even though there are a number of well known people involved. Arnie is bland and his performance is one of such moral and ethical simplicity that it made me worry that this is how he actually sees the world I really hope it is not. Koteas is a fine actor but is totally wasted here and cannot do anything with his role. John's Leguizamo and Turturro add a bit of interest but again are just poorly used. Curtis is just a, pardon my language, clichéd coloured bad guy his character is so underdeveloped that he makes the bad guy in True Lies look like a thoughtful discussion of anti-American feeling across the world. There are a handful of other recognisable faces floating around but none of them do much so I won't waste my time.
Overall, looking at this film as an action movie it is messy, uninvolving, dull, lifeless and soaked in more clichés than can be good for anyone. Sadly though, it is impossible to just view it as an action movie since it uses the response to terrorist attacks as its subject matter. With this difficult issue (and don't forget terrorist murders didn't start in September 2001) the film makes such a pathetic case that it is hard to stomach it made me watch the film right to the end but only because I really couldn't believe that anyone thought this would be a good story to tell even more so surprising that such an insensitive, jingoistic and simplistic view of the world could be presented after America itself found out what a complex issue it is. A poor movie that is only made worse by a horrid script.