Sunday, 5 October 2008

No.77 : Witness

Witness at the IMDb

Recently widowed Amish mother Rachel and her young son leave their isolated community to visit a relative. During a stop over in the big city her son, Samuel, witnesses the brutal murder of a man we later learn was police undercover operative. Detective John Book (Harrison Ford) interviews the boy and shows him mug shots without success, but an departmental conspiracy is uncovered when the boy spots a picture of the murderer in a police trophy cabinet.

Book quickly realises that the bad guy (Danny Glover), is responsible for some missing drug evidence and goes to his superior with the case. Unfortunately he’s dirty too, a point proven when Glover comes gunning for him. Now unable to trust anyone Book takes flight with the boy and his mother back to the Amish community. He plans to leave immediately but is hampered by a bullet wound inflicted by Glover that starts to get infected. Over a period of time he recovers but is warned by his partner not to return as it’s too hot for him in the city.

He gradually settles into the community and a touch of romance blossoms with Rachel. Things come to a head however, when a run in with a bunch of rednecks put him on the police radar and the bad guys come calling.

This film has a great cast and excellent director in the shape of Peter Weir. The script won the best screenplay Oscar and it enjoys a reasonably high score of 7.5/10 on the IMDb. I just didn’t enjoy it that much, sorry.

The first thing that put me off the film was the score, which admittedly is of its era, but it just sounded like a funky episode of ‘Miami Vice’ a lot of the time. When the bad guys appeared it went all doom laden, but jaunty when they were raising the barn. Setting the mood is one thing but so is hitting you over the head with a mallet.

The fish out of water scenario that saw Book enter the backwards world of the Amish also didn’t gel for me as he seemed to be getting along fine. Apart from a couple of sniffs in the beginning he was quickly embraced by the insular people and he didn’t seem to mind the lack of buttons at all. There were some lines that suggested he was unhappy with his city life that involved no wife and kids but I didn't get the impression that he was getting fulfilled here either - just as stony faced really.

The blossoming romance with the somewhat chubby Kelly McGillis was slightly better and he became a dirty Book when he got a look at her charms. The energy didn't really sparkle between the pair however, and I don’t think him hanging up his gun was ever really a consideration.

I was also less than impressed by the bad guys who were pretty thinly drawn. Danny Glover, who gives good value in the ‘Lethal Weapons’ films, is really bad but has nothing to work with . The corrupt Chief didn't ring true either and he certainly didn't come across as a bad ass murderer with $20 million of drug cash in his back pocket.

There are some things to like such as the insights into the Amish and a funny scene where some rednecks pick on the wrong carriage to harass, but overall it’s a pretty straight forward three act drama with precious little in the way of character development.

Best Bit : Kelly has a scrub down

‘W’ Score : 14/23

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