Very intense and provocative
Michael Gordon | Utah | 01/14/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Your milage may vary; but I found this movie white-knuckle intense and extremely provocative. There is little danger of giving away the plot; it is not particularly complex. Three stupid, arrogant American teenagers tempt fate by crossing an unguarded gate from Finland to the former USSR, which at the time was very much the USSR and a Very Bad Place for Americans. They make photographs of themselves on the wrong side of the gate. So far so good, but then they get lost and go the wrong way right into the hands of the Russians who mistake them for spies. Some interesting subplots are also happening that keep things moving, that I'll keep a secret for ya. I can promise you one thing: If you are American, after seeing this, you'll salute the flag, think real hard before traveling overseas and I'll bet you never photograph yourself on the wrong side of an international border!"
Robert Malmberg | Helsinki, FINLAND | 04/26/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Well, absolutely the film of the year 1986! Real masterpiece in it's own genre. Nice casting, including lot of well known Finnish actors like: Vesa Vierikko, Ismo Kallio and Sari Havas. Renny Harlin and Markus Selin really made the film, which still make conversation and sometimes even headlines in the papers.After fifteen years on it's theatrical premiere "Born American" is now available on DVD video format. I think that's first time when audience around the world has possibility to see that Cold War epic adventure on it's real form: Uncut and the kind of, what Harlin and Selin meant it to be shown!"
Renny Harlin's strange take on the Cold War
golgotha.gov | Texas | 05/07/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)
"BORN AMERICAN (1986)
directed by Renny Harlin
approx. 95 minutes
Three young American tourists cross the border from Finland to the USSR as part of a "thrill seeking" vacation. Chaos ensues, with the Americans becoming involved in an ultraviolent village brawl and eventually getting incarcerated. Along the way they encounter various strangers that may or may not be able to help them escape.
There are a lot of problems with this movie, I guess if I had to pick one it would be that the only plot device Renny Harlin seems to utilize to move the story along is his trademark violence. This is a shame because the more "restrained" scenes (such as the beginning where the Americans are evading the border guards) are pretty suspenseful and could've been a part of a great drama. Another problem is that many characters become interchangeable at some point. For example, one of the Americans falls for a girl. A second girl has the unfortunate task of telling him that his love interest has been killed, but he seems to fall for her in a matter of seconds! On top of this, the characters themselves are so rude and impulsive that when they show any other kind of emotions it must be the for first time in their life.
The most ridiculous scene is the one where we discover that prisoners are entered into a deadly "human chess game" where inmates go head to head in a dim room on a life size checkerboard*. The horrors of the gulag system are not something that have to be fabricated, especially in such a theatrical way! Perhaps worst of all is that this movie missed an opportunity to show American audiences a European perspective on the Soviet system. The movie ends with a last minute criticism of Cold War policy that states that the CIA and KGB are deliberately prolonging the war to consolidate power for themselves.
Finnish director Renny Harlin is best known for big budget action movies such as 'DIE HARD 2' and 'CLIFFHANGER'.
*- this movie was released 2 years before the computer game 'BATTLE CHESS', but after Michael Crichton's 'FUTUREWORLD' which has a similar scene!"