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“Perfectly-acceptable time-passer, helped by a solid cast, yet feels like a wasted chance.”

Ward (whom we’ll watch in anything, as payment for the enjoyment Tremors has given us) plays John McWhirter, a hard-bitten journalist with a fondness for the bottle, who is still trying to put behind him an incident when he was a young radical, that led to his friends being sent to jail for long terms, while John escaped doing time. He’s looking into the murder of an industrialist by Palestinian terrorists, when said friends show up, asking him to hide a woman (Ticotin) from the authorities for a few days, describing her as an activist in Shining Path, a Peruvian rebel group. Turns out she’s not who she seems, and it also turns out John had more to do with his friends’ arrests, thirty years ago, than it initially appeared. With enemies in the FBI, led by Robert Lecker (Plummer), an ally in the CIA, and a female assassin (Miller, right) out to tidy up all the loose ends, McWhirter has to decide whether to do what’s right, what’s easy, or what’s best for himself – and those might be three mutually exclusive options.

This dates back to early 2001, and it’s probably unlikely that a film like this could be made now, because it’s just too sympathetic to terrorists. Similarly, it’s too naive to stand up to close scrutiny in these more cynical days, and the idealistic actions of McWhirter seem at odds with his character. That said, the performances are generally good, with the likes of Virginia Madsen and Kim Coates showing up to support a solid B-movie cast. Miller’s callous approach to her work is particularly memorable in the finale, when she is torturing John, to get him to divulge the location of the fugitive. Despite such elements, however, the pieces here could certainly have been re-arranged to provide something less forgettable: potential for a remake, perhaps? Instead, what we have here feels too much like a TV-movie, though the ending has a surprise that will likely survive longer in my mind than the rest of it.

Dir: John Bradshaw
Stars: Fred Ward, Rachel Ticotin, Christopher Plummer, Penelope Anne Miller

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