Review by Andrew L. Urban:
If you haven’t heard of this film, it’s probably because it didn’t get
a theatrical release in Australia. Even in the US, it disappeared after taking
about US$300,000. Made in 1999, it is Rod Lurie’s feature debut, and is
interesting for several reasons, including the films he directed subsequently:
The Contender and The Last Castle.
Deterrence, superbly performed, is a tense political thriller with much going
for it, including an ending that will either have you slackjawed in disbelief or
squinting in fascinated thought. It’s a good pay-off, either way, and Lurie
manages to make the closed room setting inside the café a powerful pressure
point. Another element adding to the film’s piquancy is the timing of its
video release here, while the war on terror rages on.
The intent of the film is serious, as we can tell from the opening images, a
series of short tv grabs showing American presidents from Ike and JFK to young
Bush paying lip service to the evils of war. Lurie, whose intelligent script is
economical under the circumstances, closes the film with the line, “I hate
Aside from the genuine political ambiance, it’s the human aspects that make
the film intriguing as genuine drama, with Kevin Pollack an unlikely President.
But that’s acknowledged and explained in the script. Pollack is pretty good,
as is the entire the cast – and you’ll be interested to see Sean Astin in a
bit part. Astin seems older here than he does in Fellowship of the Ring, in
which he plays the Hobbit, Samwise Gamgee, made shortly after this. (In real
life he was 30 in February 2002.) I enjoyed it and was intrigued by its premise.