Rated: PG-13 Reviewed by: Frank Release date: April 2, 2005 Released by: Universal Studios, Inc.
Director Sydney Pollack brings us a stylish tense thriller staring Nicole Kidman, Sean Penn and the United Nations Building. His heroine Kidman is a delicate slight looking innocent young woman who is almost silent as she whispers many of her lines. When she walks the halls of the United Nations and the streets of New York she appears ripe to be attacked.
But Sean Penn from the secret service is not sure if she is a potential victim or part of a plot that is quite twisted, convoluted and filled with past atrocities and present African politics in the imaginary land of Motobo.
The story begins in Motobo where two investigators of a massacre are ambushed as their photographer hides and take pictures. In New York Kidman is the interpreter at the UN and overhears what appears to be a death plot for the president of Motobo.
Slowly we learn that her parents and sister were killed by the brutal administration of the president of the African nation leading Penn to suspect her more and more in the potential plot. But this is where Pollack fails to keep the level of tension, there is banter between the two main characters much of which is wasted and just serves to elongate the film. If only Alfred Hitchcock was guiding this plot.
The UN general assembly and security rooms show their beauty in this the first time they have had a film photographed inside them. Pollack does keep our interest despite the elongated dialogue and we are particularly effected by a scene on a bus and the actual assination plot through a interpreter's window in the general assembly room. It reminds us of The Day of the Jackal and even The Manchurian Candidate, but with far less heart pumping effect.
We also know that there are whites in Africa but the terror and plot of genocide in Africa probably would have appeared more effective if the interpreter were a black woman who would represent the terror of her family and friends more realistically. Not to say Kidman isn't effective - she is; but Halley Berry (Monster's Ball) or Sophie Okonedo (Hotel Rwanda) could have drawn us more deeply and effectively into the complex and twisted plot.