Day of the Falcon Reviews
A setting rarely seen in movies today.
A good, if fast-paced montage of a kingdom trying to modernize that could've had much more done with it.
A love subplot that finally doesn't seem shoehorned in.
The following conversation:
SULTAN: Why do you always have to mock everything?
DOCTOR: It's easier.
DOCTOR: Than to discuss out true feelings.
A beautiful soundtrack that lacks the cliches usually associated with movies that take place in the desert/middle east.
The language is in English, spoken by people with funny but not-altogether-convincing accents.
Casting Antonio Banderas as an Arab is like casting Sean Connery as a Spaniard.
The opening is lightly front-loaded with exposition both through text and clunky dialogue in a way that would be more effectively done otherwise, but the picture unfortunately begins in what is really the middle of the beginning of the movie.
A montage that desperately wants the audience to care for the growing children, but handles a decade within a minute without any appropriate transitions.
The king hears there is oil on his land, but is surprised to hear that it will make him rich.
Obligatory "strong princess that doesn't believe in arranged marriages" lines.
Quick cuts that make scenes seem unnecessarily short.
The Sultan is disappointed by his estranged son and dismisses him, but the son returns in the next scene, doing what they disagreed over with no 'change of heart' transition.
A Sheikh breaks one of the most-valued and important of traditions in Bedouin culture and attacks his guest. (not necessarily a bad thing, but it seemed to come out of the blue)
Obligatory 'dramatic death of a family member' scene.
The King's sudden disdain for his adopted hostage/son.
Obligatory 'villian killed by his own monologue' scene.
This kind of movie is the kind of movie I usually very much like, but they don't come by often and sometimes end up being a disappointment. Day of the Falcon was certainly no disappointment, but if what you seek in a movie is refined direction, it is not for you. It is full of half-finished items and untrained cinematography. The film composition wasn't poor, but the action jumped a lot with many scenes, making it seem like they were cut halfway through. It seems that in post-production, someone told the editors to cut a full hour of the movie out. They left in a lot of good things, but left out most major character development, making the characters distinctly flat on such a vibrant background. The movie gently touched on a lot of character-building opprotunities and just tossed them aside. When Auda arrived with all of the Southern tribes, he was ready to lead them into war, but before this scene, he was vehemently against it and denied being the Mahdi.
without appropriate transition, Auda just seems half-developed. Many people complain that it is too long. The movie is indeed long, and more could have been done in the time allotted with better editing. But I like the length and would even prefer it longer to develop it more. I enjoy long, sweeping, epic movies with good stories. And in that sense, Day of the Falcon just falls short. It stumbles into a few cliches and as I've said a lot before, the characterization needed some work. But what really bothered me was the last-minute assassination of Amar, which let Auda take control of the kingdom without him having to deal with the morally-questionable options available to him before (usurp his Father and adopted father to take the kingdom or yield to both of them and allow the kingdom to remain fractured, without schools, roads, or hospitals). That kind of Deus ex Machina took away what could have been a great moment for Auda's character and, I felt, took away from an otherwise-fine story.
In short, Day of the Falcon is a good movie, but inexpert direction takes off two stars. 3/5
It's still better than most of the crap I've seen come out of Hollywood recently.
This is one of the best movies that was produced latley, it is classic .. not just an iformative but also interesting and visualy stunning.
Annaud oversees a production with an international cast and crew. In the tradition of Lawrence of Arabia, Banderas, who is originally of Spanish decent, and Strong, who is English, play two Arabic sultans. Strong's Amar is religious and holds on to the traditional ways. Banderas's Nesib is willing to modernize with technology and is interested in becoming wealthy from recently discovered oil in a contested part of the desert. Let's back up. Amar's two sons are given to Nesib about a decade earlier as a kind of peace offering. The older son trying to escape once he has reached maturity and being killed in the process sets a renewed conflict in motion. Tahar Rahim as Prince Auda, the younger son, is really the main character. The movie is filled with characters and events, which are quite cliched, such as Auda wearing glasses to show he is a nerdy librarian and not a warrior, as well as Auda's star-crossed love of Princess Leyla (Pinto). Whenever Auda has a scene with his half-brother Ali though, their interactions are fascinating. Ali, a bastard son of Amar whose modern medical practices are at odds with orthodox Islam is excellently played by Riz Ahmed. Rahim plays the rare sympathetic and introspective character at the center of this war movie fairly well. It is a coming of age story with a few thrilling desert battles as Auda finds he has the skills to lead. Annaud continues to make these international co-productions with English dialog to hopefully benefit from English speaking film markets, however there are several lines, especially at the conclusion, which sound awkward. Between one Dutch and two French writers perhaps something is lost in translation.
Perhaps the greatest testament the film offers as to being a mixed bag is the acting. Antonio Banderas is not good. The protagonist toward the mid to late acts, Tahar Rahim, is serviceable, but not good. The other supporting cast are likewise serviceable, with Mark Strong being the only one of distinction. With his performance, the level of engagement he brings, we see what the film should have been.
The actual composition of the film is impressive. It looks great, with fantastic world building, amazing cinematography, and conveying a realistic sense of early 20th century Saudi Arabia.
The film's script is ambitious, encompassing a narrative with great ambitions. It does succeed in offering an interesting history of the time, from a uncharacteristically positive view of Islam and the Saudi powers.
It achieves this, however, with often stilted dialogue, forced plot mechanisms, and a lack of nuance. The characters too often spell out what they are thinking, and, even with the film's positive depiction, they seem hypocritical and profoundly narrow and illogical in their mindset, which the film fails to acknowledge.
The pace of the film starts of almost unbearably slow, with set-up that is unnecessary, unfocused, and all over the map as far as tone. That the film picks up considerable steam about the mid way point is its saving grace, becoming very engaging after that point.
Overall, Day of the Falcon does enough right to warrant a watch for those fans of period pieces and history (perhaps not so much from an accuracy standpoint), but one that certainly does not live up to the lofty goals it sets for itself.