Their lives are on the line. Their hearts are out on a limb. The wife of a kidnap victim and the hostage negotiator working with her navigate a brutal world of terrorism that values money over life - and find their tasks c... more »omplicated by the growing awareness that they're attracted to each other.« less
Marianne B. from MONROE CITY, MO Reviewed on 6/26/2013...
Great chemistry between Ryan and Crowe. Movie kept my interest until the end. Great bittersweet ending. I'm not usually a fan of action movies, but enjoyed this one.
3 of 3 member(s) found this review helpful.
Nanette L. (travelgrrl) from CROSSVILLE, TN Reviewed on 8/16/2008...
Excellent movie with outstanding actors.
0 of 2 member(s) found this review helpful.
Reviewer | 12/19/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The inherent dangers of living in a country in which political agendas have been compromised, and where wealth takes precedence over integrity, are made brutally clear to an American engineer who takes a job in South America, only to become the victim of a kidnapping for ransom in "Proof Of Life," directed by Taylor Hackford and starring Russell Crowe and Meg Ryan. Peter Bowman (David Morse) is hired by an oil company to build a dam that will facilitate the construction of a pipeline, but is kidnapped at random by a band of guerrillas whose political agenda has long since given way to the more lucrative business of terrorism purely for the sake of capital gains. When it happens, the London based insurance company whose business it is to underwrite conglomerates around the world to cover this particular kind of situation sends in it's "K&R" (Kidnap and ransom) man, Terry Thorne (Crowe), to negotiate the release of Bowman. And it quickly becomes a game in which most of the participants, including Bowman's wife, Alice (Ryan), would rather not participate; the catch is, you play the game, or one of the principles involved-- in this case Peter Bowman-- dies. Hackford's drama examines what it is like to face the reality of a situation over which you have neither experience nor control, and looks at it from the perspective of the victim, as well as that of those dealing with it on the other end. How does one respond to the kind of circumstances previously known only from news reports and movies, the things that only happen to others, but never to you. What would it be like to have to put your life, or the life of a loved one (as in this case), in the hands of a total stranger? It's thought provoking, sobering material that drives home the rather tentative state of the world in which we live. Crowe turns in a dynamic performance here as Thorne, the professional negotiator who of necessity forms a strong bond with the wife of the man whose freedom he is attempting to secure, and he very subtly keeps the conflict within him apparent, while maintaining the integrity of the character on the surface. A terrifically expressive actor, Crowe credibly conveys the complexity of his situation while exhibiting a stoic exterior strength, and it's his ability to give depth (aided in no small part by his magnetic screen presence) to what could easily have been a one-dimensional character that makes him believable, and makes Thorne memorable. Meg Ryan lends emotional depth to Alice, though it's not a part that realizes nor utilizes the best of her abilities as an actress. She does manage to bring some insight to the character, mainly through allusions to recent events in her life, though because of the story she is necessarily kept in the present and concerned with the immediate situation. The relationship between Thorne and Alice is handled delicately and quite skillfully; that there would be a mutual attraction between them is believable, given the lack of intimacy in Thorne's life (which is succinctly established) and the emotional needs of Alice's current condition. The impropriety of any possible relationship at this juncture is never verbalized but is entirely understood; and that Hackford never gives in to the temptation of sensationalizing their feelings for one another is significant, in that it ultimately heightens the emotional impact of the climax. David Morse gives an accomplished performance as Peter Bowman, with his emotional development over the length of his captivity especially well expressed and realized, and he is responsible for many of the very "real" moments throughout the film. His reactions during the kidnapping sequence, for instance, give it an added intensity that make it all the more believable. In a smaller role, David Caruso (Dino) gives a passable performance, but can do little more than create a character that is, in essence, a shallow imitation of Thorne (which makes you appreciate Crowe's performance all the more). Hackford has an eye for detail and tells his story with a very deliberate pace and includes some stunningly expansive visual shots, but allows the overall intensity to wane a bit, which somewhat mitigates the emotional involvement of the audience, though the drama remains intact. In the end, however, "Proof Of Life" is tightly wound and delivered and will hold your interest while bringing you face to face with just how fragile life can be; powerful food for thought that refuses to let you off the hook even as you leave the theater or click off the video."
Getting the Gun Stuff Right
Duane Thomas | Tacoma, WA United States | 01/22/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I've made my living since 1992 testing and evaluating guns, and writing articles for gun magazines. Gun people tend to loath most action movies, since they rarely get the technical details correct. Proof of Life is an exception to that rule.To start with, Proof of Life totally avoids one of my biggest pet peeves about guns in movies, what I call the "aiming indicator," that ka-chack! sound guns make every time they're aimed at anyone. The director and sound people obviously feel this is very dramatic, and says, "Hey! Someone is actually aiming a gun here!" In real life, guns don't do that. And they don't in Proof of Life, either.Terry Thorne's (Russell Crowe's) carry gun is a compact 1911 .45 auto (I'm morally certain it's a Kimber Ultra Compact, he said in full gun geek mode), a bit of an unusual choice for an ex-SAS guy. The SAS have traditionally been poster children for the Browning Hi-Power, and then transitioned over to the SIG P226. Granted, Terry's now a civilian so he can carry anything he wants (and at least the 1911 has much same manual of operations as the Hi-Power) but it's not a situation where you instantly look at the gun the character's carrying and say, "Ah yes, these people got it right." But hang in there, good stuff is to come.When Terry finds Peter in the base camp, he gives him his 1911 for protection, telling him, "Okay, here's the safety, up is Safe, down is Fire." This is totally correct. Later, Peter tries to shoot a terrorist who's threatening Terry but can't make the gun fire. After Terry deals with the bad guy, he walks up to Peter, reaches around to the side of the gun, flicks off the thumb safety, and says, "Now the safety's off." Excellent! What a pleasure to see a scene in a Hollywood movie revolve around a decent knowledge of a gun's technical features.Later, Peter actually uses Terry's 1911 to save both their lives. He can do this because Terry's placed the gun off-Safe. We have sound effects for eight shots. Again, this is correct. This sort of gun does hold eight rounds. The only small goofs here I might point out are that we hear the sound of the eighth shot while the camera angle shows Peter from behind, and the gun's slide is already locked to the rear; obviously the piece is empty. This is a problem. Then a moment later, we transition to a face-on shot to see Peter's expression - and now the slide is forward. A little sloppy, but still small stuff compared to the overall excellence of the scene.In the firefight at the base camp, even one of the good guy team, with a far higher level of training than the bad guys, begins firing his assault rifle full auto. By contrast, Terry, ex-SAS, and Dino (David Caruso in fine form), ex-Delta Force, maintain fire discipline and fire their M4s in one- and two-shot bursts. In his director's commentary, Taylor Hackford mentions that Russell Crowe is very weapons knowledgeable, and had definite opinions on how he should handle his M4 in these scenes. It shows.One other small thing I truly enjoyed. There are two moments in the base camp firefight scene where we see people killed with knives. One of Dino's mercenaries has to use a knife on a guy, and his weapon is what we'd expect from Hollywood, a big, macho, serrated blade fighting knife. By contrast, watch Terry (Russell) do the same thing, notice what he uses: the knife blade from a Leatherman Tool. Low-key, no-BS, effective. What do you want to bet that little detail came from Russell Crowe, as well? Good job, Russell!"
Proof that Russell Crowe is the best actor working today.
Reviewer | 01/31/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Once again Russell Crowe follows a great movie role, Maximus in Gladiator, with a totally different persona that holds this movie together. Proof of Life is filled with nuanced moments that only Russell can deliver. While the action sequences are superb, the intimate moments are touchingly handled. Terry Thorne is definitely the man you'd want to be your negotiator if you were ever kidnapped. As always, you know how he's feeling and what he's thinking every moment. It's a pleasure to see Russell as the competent Australian that he is in real life. And the comedic moments promise good comedy roles in the future.Taylor Hackford uses his visual skills to great effect, giving us amazing high altitude shots and the intense atmosphere of the rain forest. As others have noted, be sure to stay for the credits, the soaring portrait of the Andean landscape is breathtaking.However, this film could have been very special if the romantic elements had been fully realized, ala Casablanca. We know Hackford removed the love scene after the previews, unfortunately with this we lost "Paris", the emotional center of this film. I enjoyed Morse and Caruso very much, but thought Meg Ryan didn't have enough dialogue to give us a well rounded character in Alice. Pamela Reed was fine as her sister in law.A good action/suspense film, more emotional exposition featuring the sizzle between the two stars would have raised this up at least two notches. Understanding the full nature of their relationship would have deepened the regret and loss at the end. This one will be a keeper on dvd, with the stunning visuals and good performances, but only if Hackford puts the love scene and remorse afterwards back in."
You'll Have to Pay For This Proof Of Life
Scott Bright | Grayslake, IL USA | 07/02/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Movie Summary: Alice and Peter Bowman have lived all over the world going wherever Peter's job as an engineer takes them. It has recently taken them to the Latin American country of Tecala. On his way to work one morning, Peter runs into a road block and is pulled from his car by rebels who make money by kidnapping executives who have Kidnap and Ransom insurance. Terry Thorne (Russell Crowe) shows up to take the case but has to leave when they find out that Peter Bowman wasn't insured by his firm. Terry returns a few days later and takes the case with no promise of getting paid for mysterious emotional reasons. He works side by side with Alice (Meg Ryan) fighting to reach a deal that will bring Peter home.My Opinion: This movie was a lot better than I thought it was going to be. I found it to be very gripping and exciting. I liked both Peter's plot line and Alice and Terry's. The contrast of the two situations was quite interesting. Peter in the mountains with no comforts, injured feet, and constant stress never knowing if he'll be killed and Terry and Alice in the city with the comforts, injured hearts, constant stress, and never knowing if Peter is alive. I would have liked the deleted love scene to be included as an extra feature on the DVD. I'm not sure if I would have liked the movie more or less with it in it. There is something compelling about unfulfilled forbidden love. What I do know is that David Caruso gives and awesome performance. This is the first thing that I have seen him in since NYPD Blue that I have actually liked. Had everything he'd done since leaving the show been this good, he'd be a lot bigger star today. DVD Quality: Widescreen anamorphic 2.35:1, DD5.1. Extras include trailers, commentary, Making of Documentary. What You Should Do: See it. A rental will probably do unless you are a Crowe or Ryan movie collector."
70's realism not hollywood sensationalism
Duane Thomas | 06/19/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"what really spoke to me about this movie was that it did not go for the over-wrought sensationalism, which major studio films are so often prone to do. instead it stayed true to (what must be) tense and tedious process of negotiations following a kidnapping such as this. the film convincingly portrays the vulnerability and helplessness of the victim's family, that expose them to be preyed not only by the kidnappers but those who come to their supposed aid. there's an especially suspenseful showdown between Russell Crowe and a shady local security guard who was 'helping' the family.The film culminates in an armed mission to rescue the hostage. This climactic sequence is the epitome of suspense, and its realistic planning and operation would have put a smile even to Tom Clancy's face. Here, the filmmakers have produced a sensational outcome without resorting to sensationalism, and that has made all the difference."