Proof Of Life
***.3 GM
Starring: David Morse, Russell Crowe, Meg Ryan, Pamela Reed, David Caruso

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This movie is a perfect metaphor for David Morse's career. This guy kicks all sorts of ass and the beautiful people get all the attention.

This guy has kicked ass since I saw him in "The Crossing Guard." Movies like "The Negotiator" and "The Green Mile" made him kick even more ass. Now, he's kidnapped by South American rebels and held hostage for months, suffering through hell while his wife (Meg Ryan) is pondering whether or not to hop into Russell Crowe's pants. When he finally gets BACK from hell, he gets a half-ass hug from his wife before she says 'Hey, I've gotta talk to Russell Crowe now." And David has to look on approvingly as she says her goodbyes. Yeah, maybe that means Meg Ryan goes home with the Morse Man, but is it too much to ask that she looks somewhat happy to SEE the guy? It looks like "Dammit, if you'da died, I woulda gotten some Mad Maximus action! Now I gotta make it look like that guy's tongue wasn't just in my mouth!" No friggin' respect, man.

This is the scoop. Morse is a guy trying to build a dam to save lives in South America and using funds from an oil company that wants to plunder the land for a pipeline or some such. Meg Ryan is his wife, who's getting antsy because Morse is trying to do his job and she doesn't have anything to do and is apparently still bothered by her miscarriage. They snipe at each other one night, the next morning on his way to work, Morse Man is kidnapped and he's gotta hike around the countryside at gunpoint for months. Russell Crowe swoops his suave Australian ass in and is assigned to negotiate for Morse, but splits when he finds out he ain't gettin' paid for it, and then comes back because he has a "crisis of conscience" (i.e. "wants to nail Meg Ryan").

Overall, this is actually a pretty good action-drama flick. What makes it good is that most all the characters are humanized pretty well, including Morse's captors. They aren't just nameless bad guys to be gunned down - they actually have character moments and conflicts that make you feel bad when the negotiations fail and they have to go in and start gunning them down. It actually made me say to myself "Jeez, are they SURE they've exhausted all other options? Do they have to kill these people?" That's a good sign.

Crowe IS pretty smooth here himself, as usual. Meg Ryan is always nice to watch, too, even if I didn't buy their stupid kiss scene (glad the sex scene was cut). Pamela Reed was also really good as the overbearing and disagreeable sister of Morse Man. David Caruso, who I have declared worthless since I saw "Kiss of Death" (which I can't even remember anymore, as a testament to his bland, lifeless performance), actually had one or two moments of goodness, counterbalanced by a few awkward and weird line readings, as usual. Hopefully, no one will see this as a reason to let him star in anything again.

I do take a small amount of comfort in the fact that, when Morse finally killed the jerk captor that was harassing him the whole time (which, of course, was obviously coming), the audience broke out into applause, and that was the only time they did. That means the audience was with the Morse Man. As they SHOULD be.

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