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Proof of Life

movie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: Proof of Life

Starring: Meg Ryan, Russell Crowe
Director: Taylor Hackford
Rated: R
RunTime: 135 Minutes
Release Date: December 2000
Genres: Action, Romance, Suspense

*Also starring: David Caruso, David Morse, Pamela Reed, Alun Armstrong, Michael Kitchen, Mario Ernesto Sanchez

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Review by Susan Granger
3 stars out of 4

Abduction of multinational executives has become big business according to William Prochnau in a 1998 VANITY FAIR piece, "Adventures In the Ransom Trade," the provocative article that inspired this timely adventure story. So, after an exciting, if bewildering, opening sequence in which a hostage negotiator (Russell Crowe) extracts a victim from war-torn Chechnya, the action switches to Tecala, high in the Andes of Latin America, where an American engineer (David Morse) is kidnapped and held for ransom. Abandoned by his employer and insurance company, his "little hippie" wife (Meg Ryan) and annoyingly strident sister (Pamela Reed) try to deal with the guerrillas - until Russell Crowe, an expert in "K&R" (kidnap & ransom) comes to their rescue, along with a fellow mercenary, David Caruso.

Directed by Taylor Hackford from a script by Tony Gilroy, this is a relevant, multi-layered, suspense-filled drama. Filmed in London, Poland and Ecuador, it's no-expense-spared filmmaking, even as it wallows in melodramatic moments. And, like "Casablanca," you're left wondering right to the end if the leading lady will wind up in the arms of her husband or his would-be savior. Flush from his success in "Gladiator," Crowe offers further proof that he's a virile, self-assured, charismatic leading man, while Meg Ryan embodies the psychological torture inflicted on the wife. Their off-screen romantic trysts which became tabloid fodder should fuel the box-office. David Morse subtly shows the strain of captivity, but the Latinos, unfortunately, are stock stereotypes, particularly the cocaine-crazed bandidos. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "Proof of Life" is a high-tension 7. If you're looking for a thriller, this one delivers the goods.

Copyright 2000 Susan Granger

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