Proof of Life features a miserable love triangle. The
three major characters should indulge themselves in a ménage trois and
then pull the pin on a hand grenade. The movie is unfocused and poorly
edited. The film is also inconsistent in its political stance. Proof of
Life is the kind of movie that lambastes the Russians (the best Hollywood
enemies since the Nazis), but uses a fake South American country as the
central location. Exactly which South American country is Castle Rock
Entertainment afraid of? Actually they do pick on Columbia (as bonus bad
guys), but we know they're just a bunch of drug dealers.
Proof of Life begins in the evil country of Russia. Juggernaut hostage
negotiator Terry (Russell Crowe) single-handedly outwits hundreds of
incompetent Russians, and saves the victim. Bravo. The opening scene
1) Russell Crow is a brilliant, fearless hostage negotiator.
2) Russians are stupid and evil (despite their astrophysicists and world
champion chess players).
Then the real crisis happens. That being the one where we meet the girl.
Alice (Meg Ryan) and Peter (David Morse) live in a make believe South
American country. Peter works for an oil company (big, evil and decidedly
"North" American). We know their marriage has some "issues" because Alice
and Peter have a fight the night before Peter is kidnapped by guerillas.
The argument is a convenient (and annoying) trick by screenwriter Tony
Gilroy to give the audience a reason to expect less than complete fidelity
from Alice. PLOT SPOILER: Actually not much happens. But, like the song
said, "a kiss is still a kiss."
Naturally, the oil company hires Terry to negotiate the rescue of Peter.
If Terry can outwit the Russians, I'm thinking he can open a can of
whoop-ass on some no-name Hispanics.
Proof of Life is never a terrible film. Crowe is top-notch. Ryan has the
Ingrid Bergman role from Casablanca. She's married to a decent man, but he
just doesn't quite do it for her. Proof of Life also has a great action
climax. Director Taylor Hackford deserves credit for staging an exciting
Still, I can't help questioning a couple of scenes:
1) Why would Alice dress like Dharma from "Dharma and Greg" for an
important meeting regarding her kidnapped husband?
2) Would Alice flirt with Terry right after seeing a picture of her
husband's broken feet?
Proof of Life is about two people who ultimately do the right thing. I
found that kind of boring.