The Ghost and the Darkness

  • Film
  • Action and adventure
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The British Empire's steaming progress across East Africa is stalled by two lions that wreak such terror on the natives pressed into building a railway bridge that the project falls dangerously behind schedule. As the bodies mount, Irish engineer John Patterson (Kilmer) is joined by the famous game hunter Remington (Douglas) to tackle 'The Ghost' and 'The Darkness'. Teddy Roosevelt called Col Patterson's The Man-Eaters of Tsavo 'the most thrilling book of true stories ever written', and William Goldman's script begins with the boast: 'Even the most improbable parts of the story really happened.' Too bad director Hopkins (Predator 2) wouldn't know the truth if it bit him. He renders this mildly promising material so crassly, we might be watching a belated Jaws rip-off. All the elements are here: the prowling POV shots as the lions size up their next victim; the merciless capitalist who's the real villain of the piece (Wilkinson - 'I don't care about you; I don't care about 30 dead; I only care about my knighthood!'); and Douglas doing his Robert Shaw impression as the swaggering, whisky-swigging hunter. The film looks expensive and is, occasionally, tense. It's also risibly staged and edited, with incongruous cutaways to flora and fauna, and downright sheepish when it comes to explaining away colonialism.

Release details

Duration: 110 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Stephen Hopkins
Screenwriter: William Goldman
Cast: Michael Douglas
Val Kilmer
Tom Wilkinson
Bernard Hill
John Kani
Om Puri
Emily Mortimer
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