Proof Of Life

2000, Movie, R, 135 mins


A romantic hostage drama (yes, you read that right) set in the fictitious South American country of Tecala (the movie was shot in Ecuador, standing in for Columbia). Alice (Meg Ryan) and Peter Bowman (David Morse) are in Tecala so Peter can supervise the construction of a dam backed by an American oil company. Their marriage is on shaky ground; David is thrilled to be on a project he believes (a bit naively) will benefit impoverished, rural Tecalans, while Alice is stuck in a funk over the miscarriage she had in Africa during Peter's last job. Then Peter is kidnapped by a volatile guerrilla group with ties to the country's thriving drug trade. His employers call in professional kidnap-and-ransom negotiator Terry Thorne (Russell Crowe), but after his first meeting with the family — involving Alice and Peter's pushy sister, Janis (Pamela Reed) — they realize that, oops, they've let their K&R insurance lapse and can't pay. Though Thorne hops the next plane to London, he has a crisis of conscience and returns to help get back Peter, who's been marched to a remote guerrilla encampment in the mountains. As the negotiations drag on, Terry and Alice develop a complex, not-quite-romantic relationship. Though the romance between Alice and Terry feels as though it was grafted carelessly onto the kidnapping narrative, Crowe almost makes it work. His emotionally charged performance stands in contrast to Ryan's annoying, movie-star turn. Batting her eyes, tossing her perky, frosted curls and wearing a series of hippie-chic outfits, Ryan has the outward signs of a performance down (brimming eyes, tense mouth) but seems oddly disconnected from Alice's turmoil. The film is also helped by fine performance from Morse (whose physical degeneration is painfully convincing), as well as David Caruso, as another hostage negotiator, and German actor Gottfried John, as a kidnapped missionary. leave a comment --Maitland McDonagh

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Proof Of Life
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