Proof of Life
Time Out saysPeter Bowman, husband of Alice (Ryan), is kidnapped by corrupt, cocaine-financed South American guerillas. A gritty, semi-documentary style often pays dividends and the film is strongest on the mercenary cynicism of the kidnap business, its well-oiled procedures and poker-faced bluffing games contrasting sharply with the true emotional cost to the victims. The protracted negotiations are complicated by many factors, not least that the Bowmans' marriage was on the verge of collapse. Negotiator and ex-SAS commando Terry Thorne (Crowe) is professional to the point of coldness: when the insurance company pulls the financial plug, he leaves. Alice's pushy sister-in-law strikes a deal with a dodgy local 'co-ordinator', but then Thorne shows his mettle, returning to finish the job at his own expense. The charismatic Crowe's steely restraint pulls us through this melodramatic mudslide, even as we question his professional and personal motives. Morse is excellent as the pragmatic engineer pushed to the limits, and Gottfried John has a fine cameo as a 'crazy' fellow prisoner. Compromising all this solid work, however, is Ryan's idealistic 'hippie' wife, whose immaculate make-up and pink lipstick are as incongruous as her teary-eyed histrionics.