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PROOF OF LIFE

SYNOPSIS:
When an American engineer, Peter Bowman (David Morse) is kidnapped in Latin America while working on dam that is supposed to put a good face on an oil project, his wife, Alice (Meg Ryan) is left to her own devices as the company collapses. And there is no kidnap insurance, so top kidnap negotiator Terry Thorne (Russell Crowe) can’t help her. Not officially, that is. The terrorists, once motivated by environmental issues and called activists, are now drug manufacturing bandits, financing their operations with ransom dollars. Thorne knows how to play their game and win – but this time, he is acting on his own, albeit with a little help from a fellow mercenary, Dino (David Caruso). Meanwhile, Thorne starts to fall in love with Alice, complicating his mission with emotional baggage.

"A good old fashioned action adventure is hard to beat for thrills of an evening in the cinema, and Proof of Life offers a rich mix of star power, exotic and moody locations, a politically flavoured action plot with an emotion-pedal of a romantic sub-plot and high budget production values. Russell Crowe finally achieves one of his stated goals (when he went to Hollywood for work) of playing a central character in a Hollywood movie – as an Australian, in his own voice. His Terry Thorne is a sad figure in many ways, and this is what gives the film some dynamic: a divorced father with a rarely-seen 13 year old son, he is a first rate professional soldier who left the Australian army in search of real action at the British SAS. You might say it’s a trite device, but Russell Crowe makes it work because he creates the character whole, and believes in it. Although only playing ‘lady in distress’ as the distressed wife of a kidnapped executive in a foreign and dangerous land, Meg Ryan brings plenty of anguished emotion to her role and makes us care for her. David Morse is playing the kidnapped victim in a nice change of pace for an actor usually shoved into a bad guy role, and he shines. There are moments in the film that cross the line into melodrama, and it could be shorter, but it plays as a well honed entertainment machine. The main action sequences in the South American locations provide the film’s strongest appeal. But there are a few smaller, equally crucial dramatic scenes at the start of the kidnap plot that light a fuse which burns well into the film. It is not a great film, but it is everything it sets out to be."
Andrew L. Urban

"A ripper of a good yarn, Proof of Life offers plenty of action on the ground, in the air and in the heart. Bringing his own distinctive Australian sense of humour to his role, Russell Crowe plays a modern-day hero – one whose heroics are emotional as well as physical. Charismatic Crowe is cool, laid back and we really believe it when he says in the script: 'I'm for real'. It's almost the cue for a cheer. This is really an old fashioned kind of adventure with a touch of romance. You could almost imagine Bogie and Bacall or Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman in the roles. The story? Kidnapping, corporate and political turmoil with action and stunts, plus business that becomes very personal. And the 'Kidnap & Ransom' angle is explored from different points of view – the negotiator, the victim, the wife and the kidnappers. Fast paced with action and stunts to spare, the script is punctuated by witty lines while Danny Elfman's rhythmic score keeps the pulse beating strongly. The locations are as diverse as they are exotic: from Poland we journey to London, and from the banks of the Thames we venture to South America. Ecuador's jungles are lush, the mountain vistas spectacular – all captured by stunning cinematography. You can almost taste the flavours of the locations, and local casting in Ecuador adds considerably. Plus, of course, there's the bonus of the push-pull chemistry of our Russ and America's Sweetheart Meg Ryan. Gorgeous to look at, Ryan offers great dramatic impact; she is strong yet vulnerable. She is assertive yet feminine. Wearing her heart on her sleeve she is the perfect complement for Crowe's tough but sensitive ransom negotiator. And yes, women will continue to flock to the hairdresser, asking for the Meg Ryan look. Unless you've been on the moon for the past six months, you would be inhuman not to feel a little voyeuristic when watching Crowe and Ryan together. In fact at the Australian Premiere, when they kissed on screen, a ripple ricocheted through the audience, reminding me of the round of applause in Cannes that greeted Tom and Nicole's first screen kiss in Far and Away. While it may be a little long, Proof of Life has enough punch, personality and star-power to make it a thrilling and compelling tale."
Louise Keller

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 2
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

TRAILER

PROOF OF LIFE (M)
(US)

CAST: Meg Ryan, Russell Crowe, David Morse, Pamela Reed, David Caruso

DIRECTOR: Taylor Hackford

PRODUCER: Taylor Hackford, Charles Mulvehill

SCRIPT: Tony Gilroy

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Slawomir Idziak

EDITOR: John Smith, Sheldon Kahn

MUSIC: Danny Elfman

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Bruno Rubeo

RUNNING TIME: 135 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE DATE: March 1, 2001

VIDEO RELEASE DATE: September 26, 2001

VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Warner Home Video







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