Review by Mark Fleming|
3½ stars out of 4
A well-played satire on media obsessions, and the public's often-unhealthy
appetite for celebrity adulation. Bernie Laplante (Dustin Hoffmann),
a small-time crook, happens to break down on a bridge just as a plane
plummets into the river before him. Against his ingrained character
traits, he soon finds himself amongst the shattered fuselage, dragging
passengers to safety, including, as fate would have it, Channel 4's
ratings-hungry presenter (Geena Davis). Although the eternally suspicious
Laplante skulks away from prying eyes, Channel 4 has soon picked up on
this 'Angel of Flight 104', offering one million dollars for his story.
Except they get their story from a fraud (Andy Garcia).
The lionisation of this fake hero is where the movie really shifts into
gear. Interest in this apparent rags-to-riches success reaches fever pitch.
At one point John visits a children's ward, touching patients like a
Messiah and waking a child from a coma. Davis falls for him. Laplante,
a petty criminal, who deep down loves his family, finally proves himself
the true hero, once again, when a disillusioned John prepares to throw
himself from a ledge.
Hoffmann carries the film. Laplante holds the key to his own redemption,
but this is continually snatched away from him. His multi-layered
character is a bundle of Woody Allenesque insecurities, with a professional
thief's beady eyes. (He is introduced swiping his own lawyer's purse
in the middle of a courtroom.) But he also gives his villain a heart,
without ever lapsing into sentimentality.
Davis excels as Gail Gayley, a cynical newsreader who falls for the
handsome man her news channel has fashioned into a public hero from a hobo.
Andy Garcia is also excellent as John Bubber, an opportunist with a conscience.
Copyright © 2001 Mark Fleming