Monday, August 8, 2011

PROOF OF LIFE (2000) - More Maximus, Less Meg.

I remember walking around the TV section at a local Best Buy or some other huge electronics store back a few years back and seeing some scenes from this movie, which I'd never heard about before. There was Russell Crowe, all decked out in camo face paint, packing an assault rifle and reducing population of Latin America by the dozens in a frantic, violent rescue scene. With huge surround sound and a big screen, it worked pretty well as a demo, but years passed and I forgot my mental note to check out "that action movie with Gladiator." After seeing it in its entirety for the first time now, maybe I shouldn't have bothered after all.

Every terrorist's worst nightmare - Maximus with a gun.
Terry Thorne (Crowe) is a retrieval expert. He works as a hostage negotiator for a big insurance firm, handling all the money transfers to dangerous criminal groups and getting back his clients in one piece. As we see from the movie's terrific opening sequence, Terry isn't some paper-pushing desk jockey -  he's the real deal. He's sent to Chechnya to recover a kidnap victim, and thanks to his crafty ex-soldier ways, he double crosses Russians and Chechnyans, giving them empty bags of cash and setting them to fight each other as he makes his escape with the hostage.

You can't be a movie hostage without growing a sweet beard.
A brief switch of scenery and we're introduced to Alice (Meg Ryan) and Peter Bowman (David Morse), Americans living and working in South America. Peter is an engineer working for an oil firm, and his dam project has just been canceled, leading to some tension in the marriage as Alice wonders whether its time to return to the States. They don't argue for long though, as Peter gets kidnapped by guerillas the next day, and is taken far up into the mountains, and held for ransom.. Alice eventually gets in contact with Terry through the oil company, and together they begin to plan a way to get Peter back to safety. While her husband rots in the jungle and is tortured daily, Alice develops a thing for Terry (must be the accent, mate), which is apparently O.K., since we get some nice romantic music in the background to set the mood. Whatever.

Who the hell let Meg Ryan near an action movie?
Russell Crowe is, as always, watchable in anything. He's convincing as the ex-soldier and overall badass with a heart of gold Terry, and he carries the film with his performance. Meg Ryan on the other hand, does everything humanly possible to be the most insufferable character in the movie. Every scene she's in drags the movie down to soap opera levels of cheese, and it's tough to sympathize with her since she seems more worried about banging Russell Crowe than getting her poor bastard of a husband back safely. The romance feels forced, is uninteresting, and just slows down the movie when the movie really needs a jolt of tension. The few action scenes in the movie are well shot, especially the finale, which has one of the best commando raids on film and is the highlight of the movie.

Damn gringos! Always causing trouble.
It's really a shame that the movie focuses so much on the sappy romance between the leads when all it needed was a shot in the arm to get the juices flowing. This one had plenty of potential, which just goes to waste. With an interesting premise and a great star at the helm, it should have been much better than this. It had everything going for it and loses a lot of momentum in the middle of the film and the awesome action sequence at the end isn't enough to save the movie from being an average thriller lacking in the thrills department.

Best scene: The hostage rescue finale, with Terry and his crew wreaking havoc on the guerrilla camp in a realistic, vicious firefight as all hell breaks loose.

Best quote: Anytime Russell Crow abuses the word "mate" in his Aussie accent.

  TL;DR - Too much Meg Ryan and not enough action makes for a boring "thriller" - 5/10


  1. Not a fan of either Ryan or Crow, cheers for the warning lol

  2. You nailed it perfectly, quite dull at times.

  3. I think after this movie is when Meg Ryan just said FUCK IT and stopped caring. haha

  4. Yeah I remember seeing this and wasn't too impressed. However, this blog is impressive, and I must say, I am now a follower. I'm glad to see someone is out there, giving Man movies legitimate reviews!

  5. Never even heard of this and love Russell Crowe, too bad it's bad.

  6. Ponder this: Tom Hanks as Thorne.

  7. This movie has a really good cast in my opinion. With Russell Crowe, Meg Ryan, David Morse & David Caruso the movie makes you believe in each one of their characters. David Morse is a really good actor that most people don't hear a lot about.