Beyond Borders Reviews
Trite in as many ways as it can be, this film is rich with clichéd dialogue that often falls incredibly flat, much like thin spots in the characterization that ends up supplementing melodramatics, namely those from a romantic angle that does not really gel with the rest of this drama. The focus of the film jars between humanitarianism and hopelessly histrionic romance, and that's awkward enough with it corrupting thematic consistency in storytelling that at least maintains consistency in manipulation. Caspian Tredwell-Owen's script utilizes contrived set and dialogue pieces to supplement a portrait on suffering, while Martin Campbell's direction delivers on overblown plays on score work and atmosphere to beget sentimentality which cheesily dilutes genuineness. The film is nothing if not manipulative, but less in a frustrating way, and more in an ambitious way which reflects this film's good intentions, betrayed by overblown storytelling that tries so desperately to salvage juice from its subject matter than the limitations of the subject matter itself go stressed. This is a story concept whose value can be emphasized as easily as it shortcomings can be, because through all of the themes on warfare and social turmoil is a somewhat simple study on people going from conflicting country to conflicting country to simply help the suffering, and outside of the romantic angles, there's not much meat on the bones of this narrative beyond that, and if there is, then the film takes itself to get to it. The film is too long, and it doesn't have the scope to justify its length that it could have had, superficialized by clichés, inconsistencies and contrivances that wear the final product down as very underwhelming, at best. Still, I don't find the final product to be quite as great of a misfire as many say it is, for as misguided as it is, it does have a gifted team whose talent can be muted for only so long.
For all of its flat spots, Philip Meheux's cinematography has more than a few ruggedly handsome areas in its complimenting the bleak grit of corrupted environments that are built with remarkable convincingness and, of course, captivating sweep. This film has the potential and, in a few ways, the aspirations to be an epic, for although the plot is a touch thin in its happenings, its scale is commendable, and that does play a solid factor in the importance of this film's story concept. Although the film is a whole lot of nothing but helping, when it doesn't jar into a whole bunch of romantic melodrama and other such nonsense, humanitarian themes are worwhile, and they often do go into establishing a sound sense of conflict and consequence into a histrionic and superficial, but still promising story concept. Caspian Tredwell-Owen's script is consistently flimsy in how it handles promising subject matter, but Martin Campbell, as director, has his moments, delivering on subtle stylization and a solid sense of scope in order to immerse you into the distinct environments of this pseudo-epic, until finding realization in his celebration of James Horner's overblown, but solid score, which is either thoroughly sentimental, or genuine enough to resonate, particularly with a surprisingly engrossing final act. If Campbell does nothing else, he manages to keep up solid entertainment value through smooth pacing and an endearing atmosphere, and that should be enough to challenge mediocrity in between the dramatic highlights that are largely guided, not by Campbell, but by a talented cast. When used, Noah Emmerich plays Noah Emmerich, and is therefore very charming and relatable, but this is mostly Clive Owens' and Angelina Jolie's show, and although the two leads aren't able to keep up all that much chemistry with the thin dramatic writing, both deliver on genuine, sometimes powerful emotional range that is more than what this film deserves. There are times - especially when the plot thickens - in which Jolie and Owen carry the film, being capable enough leads to further emphasize the potential that is being portrayed by all of the misguided storytelling, which has enough highlights to secure the final product's decency, no matter how firmly challenged.
Bottom line, clichés are almost as recurrent as superficialities, in thin characterization, trite melodramatics and contrivances which join an excessive length and inconsistencies in emphasizing what natural shortcomings there is to worthy story that is done much injustice, yet is done enough justice by handsome cinematography, sweeping visuals, lively and sometimes resonant direction, and strong performances by Clive Owen and Angelina Jolie for Martin Campbell's "Beyond Borders" to stand as a decent, if flimsy romantic drama and tribute to humanitarianism.
2.5/5 - Fair
also stars Teri Polo, Linus Roache, Yorick Van Wageningen, Noah Emmerich, Kate Ashfield, Jamie Bartlett and Timothy West.
directed by Martin Campbell.