UNFORTUNATELY, THE SCREENPLAY WINS OUT.
Rsoonsa | Lake Isabella, Calif. | 09/29/2004
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Fred Ward enjoys a rare starring assignment in this Canadian made melodrama, cast as an award winning New York City reporter who has seen palmier days, yet has decided, when given an opportunity, to write the most significant story of his career, one in which his private past forms a critical chapter. John McWhirter (Ward) had belonged to a radical left-wing organization during the 1960s that attempted to bomb an R.O.T.C. building, but his identity was not disclosed by those who were arrested and sentenced to substantial prison sentences. Shortly after two of the bombers are released, they pressure McWhirter to provide a safe house wherein a Peruvian refugee (Rachel Ticotin) may hide, and when he agrees to the task as payment for his moral debt, he quickly finds himself enmeshed in dealings with such as the C.I.A., the F.B.I. and Palestinian terrorists (although strangely the subsequent murderous proceedings apparently occur without involvement by the New York City Police Department). Director John Bradshaw is notably competent with use of extras, therewith smoothing the flow of action, and his oversight of editing and other post-production processes assist in keeping the film interesting, but the storyline, and chiefly its rushed and logic bereft ending, largely jettisons his endeavours. There are curious casting choices, with Virginia Madsen rather uncomfortable as a metropolitan area newspaper editor, while Penelope Ann Miller thoroughly revels in her eccentric turn as a C.I.A. contract killer, while sterling actors Christopher Plummer and Kim Coates are too lightly used as F.B.I. agents; Ticotin garners the performing laurels, creating her part as an ambiguously actuated fugitive. Cinematographer Barry Stone provides well-composed scenes despite ineffective utilization of flashbacks; in a final analysis the script is what most matters here and a coherent narrative structure requisite for such an ambitious plot as this is simply not forthcoming."