Please distribute this URL as you see fit. By Ted Baldwin
Amusing, isn't it?
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Proof of Life"

It is Actioner hilariously advertised as "Casablanca with fire power..."
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Five possible.
     Say what you want about bad-boy Russell Crowe, he can act. However, despite his intensity, a Johnny-one-note performance in this brittle drama wears thin quickly.

     I wandered around gehenna for a while, worrying about what to write on this overly-long kidnap and rescue tale, at least until I saw the "Casblanca" comparison on TV.

     That got me thinking all right, and I did a for real comparison of the two.

     What POL lacks is proof of writing, intrigue, and mystery. It is as straightforward as a ruler, and about as even. Highs and lows are all porridge here, blending into the wispy green jungle.

     Clear and Present Danger had more jungle escapades and real suspense than this sometimes soapy drek-trek.

     The victim of K&R is a dam builder, honest fellow, out to help the poor native peoples of hindarauguaco or whereever the made-up (probably) country is. Nabbed, and recognized as an oil company executive because of his freakin' hat of all things, he is cartajena'd off to the murky camps of the hills, there to reside in foliant splendor until the ransom of 5 million is paid.

     Russell gets in on the action, then bows out when it is discovered the man has no K&R insurance coverage and the oil co. won't pay.

     Russell exits, wife (Meg Ryan, being all idealistic) hires crooks, Russell re-enters to save the day, with bad boy David Caruso trying desperately to revive his one note career by saving another prisoner in the jungle. Kind of embarrassing, really. He shoulda stood on NYPD Blew.

     La de dah, about two hours later the rescue attempt is over (which I will not reveal the outcome of). And so forth.

     Will the wife remain faithful? Will Crowe score? Will the hubby escape? By the end you know they have to, with exception of Crowe scoring. Whether they do or not is immaterial.

     So thank you Ad people, for brazenly suggesting this is a Casablanca in its own right.

Amusing Side-Bar
What Casablanca has that POL does not.
 1. Mystery of the orient, even if it is Morocco VS. phobia of jungle-rot.

2. Spies VS. Oil Company Wonks.

3. Unfaithful woman pulling a scam VS. faithful woman pulling her hair.

4. Misery in Paris VS. misery in London.

5. Police captain VS. nobody in authority.

6. Lying informants VS. lying informants
(Well! 1 for 6 so far).

7. Secret boyfriend VS. no secret husband.

8. Nazis VS. Communist Guerillas.

9. WWII VS. the Clinton Presidency.

10. An island VS. an isthmus.

11. Lone detective VS. armed helicopter commandos.

12. Peter Lorre VS. Anthony Heald (who is great on Boston Public;Fox).

13. Fat man VS. fat cats.

14. Broken heart VS. no paycheck.

15. Missing passports VS. ransom money.

16. Nights in cheap hotels VS. nights in cheap lean-tos.

17. Starpower VS. firepower.
Well, that should be about it, except that POL is not a bad film, it is just ludicrous to compare it to a timeless classic - a standard in storytelling the world over. I recommend seeing it.
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