Proof Of Life
Anti-government forces capture an American engineer in a Latin American country. When the rebels learn his identity, they demand $6 million for his safe return. However, his U.S. employer is on the verge of insolvency and will not pay the ransom. His wife is forced to deal with the situation on her own and hires a freelance professional hostage negotiator. With the help of a fellow negotiator and a trio of highly trained mercenaries, they mount a bold operation to rescue her husband.
I have always preferred mounting suspense to exploding bombs in my movies. Guess which this film has. For the past fifteen years, film producers have placed emphasis on special effects and gruesome violence to maintain viewer interest. “Proof of Life” sees no reason to break with this new tradition. It begins with explosions, then there are more explosions, then a surprise explosion that makes you jump out of your seat, and finally, it concludes with a daring raid complete with, you got it, more explosions. It contains other excess as well, including large doses of crude and profane language from each of the main characters. And besides all the explosives, the picture is riddled with other violence. Bodies drop like Raid-sprayed flies. For example, we not only see a guy get his throat cut, but we hear it as well. It’s not a bad film, but it fails to raise the tension meter without something detonating. Hitchcock knew how to set the mood. He’d design a scene much like the following: While an unsuspecting couple converse at dinner, the camera would reveal a bomb under the table. The director would cut back to it as it ticks away toward detonation. This unnerved the audience. Taylor Hackford (“An Officer and a Gentleman,” “Against All Odds”) doesn’t show you the threatening device, the table or the people, he just explodes the bomb. In fact, several of them. Russell Crowe is one of my favorite film actors. His work in “L.A. Confidential” and “The Insider” is some of the finest acting I’ve seen from a movie star in the past couple of years. Here, he also gives a smoldering performance. Meg Ryan on the other hand – well, let’s just say she has given us better work in the past. I’m sure she will in the future. But in this picture, it looks like she has more on her mind than merely making a movie.