Proof of Life,
directed by Taylor Hackford
(Castle Rock, 2000)

Proof of Life gets inside your head and under your skin. It portrays a world that most of us will never see and know very little about: the world of the South American rebels' hostage business.

Peter Bowman (David Morse) and his wife, Alice (Meg Ryan), have traveled to several countries doing humanitarian work. Peter is now in charge of building a dam in Tecala so an oil company, Quad Carbon, can lay a pipeline. He is doing it so the people can have water, but Quad Carbon is going broke and sells the pipeline to Octonol. Just as Peter gets the news that he and his crew are being laid off, he is kidnapped at a rebel roadblock. The rebels believe he is an important person with the oil company and demand $5 million in ransom. But Quad Carbon has already dropped its kidnap and ransom insurance, and Octonol is not involved with the employees of the other company. Peter's family is on its own with the situation.

Terry Thorne (Russell Crowe), a hostage retrieval expert, offers his services to Alice. The negotiation carries on for several weeks while the movie alternates between Peter's family in Tecala and Peter in the mountains. During this time, Terry and Alice find themselves becoming attracted to each other, which confuses Terry's best friend, Dino (David Caruso) no end. As he points out ... how can they possibly expect this mess to have a happy ending?

Peter has been watching for a chance to escape but when he finally tries, it doesn't go as he'd hoped. Bad becomes worse very quickly for all concerned.

This is one superb film. The suspense hits you in the beginning and never lets up until the end. This one will make you bite your fingernails. It has been hailed as a romantic thriller, but there's plenty of action to go with the suspense. When you put Crowe, Caruso and Morse together in a film, you know it will have some explosive action. Any one of the three stands alone in his own right as an outstanding actor, but combined, they are a force to be seen. That pretty much sums up my thoughts on the acting, doesn't it? Ryan is usually fantastic in whatever she does, and this is no exception.

I really like the photography in this movie. They manage to cover all the action from a nice angle with steadiness and clarity. That is becoming more and more difficult to find as film crews are going for the unusual or "provocative" angles or adding movement to the camera to "enhance" the action. The action scenes, in the beginning and at the end, are amazing. The effects are fantastic and totally credible.

Time named Proof of Life one of the 10 best films of the year. Watch it yourself and you'll likely agree. It is a story that makes you live through a horrific event from the point of more than one person.

review by
Alicia Karen Elkins

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