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Overall Rating

Awesome: 10.39%
Worth A Look41.56%
Just Average: 33.77%
Pretty Crappy: 11.69%
Sucks: 2.6%

6 reviews, 41 user ratings

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Proof of Life
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by Jason Whyte

"Fictional kidnapping...in a fictional place...in glorious Cinemascope!"
3 stars

"It's never a pretty picture," Russell Crowe's character says in "Proof of Life," which is a movie set in a fictional country in South America, where kidnapping has become a business for free labour and ransom demands. A picture contains a thousand words. "Proof of Life" is a pretty picture, there's just not that many words to praise it.

Peter Bowman (David Morse) is a man who is building a dam when he is kidnapped while driving to an airport in Tecala, South America. His ransom is forced on his wife Alice (Meg Ryan) for millions of dollars, and Negotiator Terry Thorne (Russell Crowe) is sent in to assist Alice with the ransom demands.

A lot more is happening. Peter is fighting for his life day after day in the camp, trying to make enemies comrades, and helping a man from the Foreign Legion to escape. Terry leaves for a while, thinking that David's company wont bone up any money and are really just cheapening out. Meanwhile, for Screenwriting 101 purposes, a returning Terry and Alice get caught up in feelings for each other, and much of the 132 minute running time consists of what will happen to each of them, romantically.

I admire director Taylor Hackford's finesse with directing and keeping the tension going. Here is a director who has done such movies as "Devil's Advocate," "An Officer and a Gentelman" and "Dolores Claiborne," and here he has a knack for visuals and action sequences. Watch the opening scene, which introduces us to Terry's job, is wonderfully edited and exciting. And the final rescue operation, is a surprisingly long and fascinating sequence.

But it stops there. The ransom dealings are not very interesting, nor is the romantic subplot. Or if Hackford was aiming for that to be the main focus, perhaps the kidnapping is a subplot? I'm also getting tired of smarmy good guys that approach the bad guy in a crowded place, and sit down next to them and tell them they are caught. This technique works in James Bond films and in smarter screenplays, where there is an actual reason the good guy finds the bad one.

Meg Ryan and Russell Crowe, while great to look at, are more wooden here than in their previous roles. Ryan has shown more convincing dramatic seriousness in the past, like in "Courage Under Fire." And Crowe has shown in "Gladiator" and "L.A. Confidental" that he is a commanding screen presence. Not here. The star of the movie is David Morse, who is one of the best supporting actors of the last 20 years. He makes Peter Bowman realistic and gives us someone to cheer for. Supporting players David Caruso and Pamela Reed give good support.

"Proof of Life" may make money based on the clout of Russell Crowe and Meg Ryan, but the movie itself is not very good. It needs a better script, and if anything is worth seeing in the film, it's the aforementioned action sequences and David Morse, who is such a likable actor, he deserves better than a "Oh yeah, THAT guy!" by audiences when he is seen in his usual supporting roles.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=4642&reviewer=350
originally posted: 09/14/04 01:28:13
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User Comments

8/01/11 Piz Action scenes carry the film. A bit long but worth the watch! 4 stars
9/19/10 Jan Patterson Grand colors. David Morse A+ David Caruso :)) I keep coming back to it. 4 stars
8/26/05 ES Ho-hum, can't say it was terrible, David Morse should have had the lead over Crowe 3 stars
11/29/03 john Russel Crowe gives a great performance - phenomenal action sequence at the end! 5 stars
6/17/03 lyn interesting....entertaining...not thought provoking...an easy watch 4 stars
6/14/03 R.W. Welch Good action sequences. The rest just gets by. 3 stars
4/10/03 Jack Bourbon Decent 3 stars
4/06/03 Francis top shelf actors either sleep walking or looking awkward 3 stars
3/02/03 Jack Sommersby Interesting, well-acted film that's overlong & only sporadically exciting. Caruso is aces! 2 stars
3/02/03 Jon "Thumb the Toad" Lyrik Meh. 2 stars
12/29/02 John Miskey Great action film. Definitely in my Top 10. 5 stars
7/26/02 I Can't Swim Meg should retire; she can't act worth a damn. Best here is Crowe & Caruso & Morse 4 stars
7/24/02 palaboy101 one of Russell Crowe's best 5 stars
7/11/02 KMG Russell was hot....Meg GET THE FUCK OFF CAMERA! 3 stars
4/03/02 Edfink Lombardo No screen chemistry between two stars...Underdeveloped plot elements...Morse was good 2 stars
2/04/02 Bertha Venation Meg almost ruined this, was saved by Crowe & David Morse 4 stars
2/02/02 EzGoo Pretty good movie.. liked it... 5 stars
1/31/02 Andrew Carden Good Premise Wasted In A Constroversal and Confusing Adventure. 2 stars
12/18/01 Butterbean Crowe and Ryan had no chemistry, action scenes bored me, only Russ's accent kept me awake. 1 stars
12/15/01 Jack Baker the plot was solidly given and the detailed action was enjoyable, altogether rather good 4 stars
8/06/01 MsJuniper Fab edit & dialog -feels real & smart. True to Pronau article. Glad sex scene *cut* 5 stars
7/16/01 Monday Morning I'm getting to like Russell and loathe Meg more and more each movie. 4 stars
7/09/01 Piz a one-hour story told in two-and-a-half...not terribly impressive 3 stars
7/02/01 TLsmooth Russell Crowe Good. Meg Ryan Bad. Sucks Big Donkey Dicks Bad. 2 stars
6/26/01 The Bomb 69 A shame bad publicity killed this movie, intersting look at K&R, Ryan was miscast 4 stars
3/21/01 Burchy Cool idea, boring film 2 stars
3/16/01 fahrbot A bit slow at the beginning but worth it in the end 4 stars
1/10/01 RazorDog Good movie- It moved pretty slow in some parts, but had some great action. 5 stars
1/05/01 Bonnie Grossman Had it been a rental, I would have rewound after 30 minutes. "Chemistry" is chem-misery. 2 stars
12/23/00 Lance Good movie 4 stars
12/18/00 bart Boring! Stupid! Meg cam 1 stars
12/17/00 Will I didn't hate it. Overall it was okay, but Meg just doesn't cut it. 4 stars
12/15/00 Is could use more david morse, but still thrilling and engaging 5 stars
12/13/00 jon j strong male performances, but still pretty fucking boring 3 stars
12/13/00 Jules Long and boring! 2 stars
12/11/00 Lynnaea Crowe: thoroughly enjoyable; the subject: fresh, intriguing; Caruso's cameo: amusing. 4 stars
12/11/00 Greg Cotton A really excellent movie! Fine work by all the leads and none of the usual firearms goofs! 5 stars
12/11/00 Sharon C. I truly enjoyed this movie! David Morse was great. 4 stars
12/10/00 Angus moorehead Crowe shines while Ryan should stick to romantic comedy...she is awful. 3 stars
12/09/00 Darcy Morrish I thought the trailer for Speilberg's new movie was more exciting 2 stars
12/09/00 Kohawk This movie was engaging the whole way thru. Great ending, Crowe is the new Willis 4 stars
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  01-Mar-2001 (M)

Directed by
  Taylor Hackford

Written by
  Tony Gilroy

  Meg Ryan
  Russell Crowe
  David Caruso
  David Morse
  Pamela Reed
  Daniel Lugo

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