Under Fire (1983)

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Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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Movie Info

This gripping, emotional story of a roving photographer's transformation from a neutral artist with a camera to an involved human rights activist with a camera begins in Chad, travels to Nicaragua in the early 1980s, and ends when the Nicaraguan dictator Somoza takes off for the palm trees and beaches of Florida. Nick Nolte brilliantly interprets his role as the photographer Russell Price, and Joanna Cassidy is Claire, the radio journalist he meets while in Chad, along with her lover, Time Magazine reporter Alex (Gene Hackman), who ends up opting for a plush job as a TV anchorman and a quiet life on Long Island. When Alex leaves, Claire heads off to the next hot spot, Nicaragua, and Russell decides to tag along -- not because he is that interested in Nicaragua, but because he is interested in Claire. Once in the war-torn, Central American country, it does not take Russell long to see the vast difference between the corrupt, U.S.-backed dictatorship and the struggling guerrilla forces who have been fighting for a decade already. As his eyes are opened, he and Claire decide to go along with the rebels and film their fighting behind the lines. During one battle, the much-venerated rebel leader is shot dead, and Russell reluctantly agrees to fake a photo of the man as though he were still living, so as not to demoralize the army that looks up to him for leadership. The photo appears in the news around the world and causes such a furor that Alex shows up to demand an interview with the leader for national American television. It is on the way to this supposed interview that Alex leaves the car for a moment and is senselessly shot and killed by a government soldier, the whole episode filmed for the world by Russell's camera. This outrage (which actually occurred when journalist Bill Stewart was inhumanly shot by a Somoza soldier in full view of the video camera) soon makes global news and helps to hasten the overthrow of the corrupt dictatorship. Meanwhile, Russell has new issues to consider once his camera has become an "active" and not a "passive" observer of political unrest. René Enriquéz who plays the dictator Somoza in this film is a native Nicaraguan, related to a newspaper reporter killed by Somoza's government.
Rating:
R (adult situations/language, nudity, violence)
Genre:
Drama , Mystery & Suspense
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
 limited
On DVD:
Runtime:
Studio:
Vestron Video

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Cast

Ed Harris
as Oates
Elpidia Carrillo
as Sandinista
Gene Hackman
as Alex Grazier
Nick Nolte
as Russell Price
Richard Masur
as Kittle
Raul Garcia
as Waiter
Monica Miguel
as Doctor
Hamilton Camp
as Seydor
Martin LaSalle
as Commandante Cinco
Enrique Lucero
as Prison Priest
Jenny Gago
as Miss Panama
Holly Palance
as Journalist
Jorge Zepeda
as Rafael
Jorge Santoyo
as Guerrilla Leader
Lucina Rojas
as Guerrilla Woman
Andaluz Russell
as Young Journalist
Carlos Romano
as Priest
Eric Valdez
as Time Stringer
Clay Wright
as Helicopter Pilot
Fernando Elizondo
as Businessman
Oswaldo Doria
as Boy Photographer
Ella Laboriel
as Nightclub Singer
Raul Picasso
as Bassist
Samuel Zarzosa
as Drummer
Enrique Beraza
as Interrogating Officer
Michael Crowley
as Helicopter Gunner
E. Villavicencio
as Arresting Officer
Martin Palmares
as Sandinista
Gerardo Morena
as Sandinista
Antonio Mata Jr.
as TV Camera Crew
Filipe Ytuarte
as Commandante
Humberto Vilches
as Squadron Commander
Roberto Dumant
as Hotel Clerk
Eugene Vagnone
as Helicopter Gunner
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Critic Reviews for Under Fire

All Critics (17) | Top Critics (4)

Director Roger Spottiswode, after a couple of earlier actioners, has great potential.

Full Review… | March 25, 2009
Variety
Top Critic

A thrilling film, with a head, a heart, and muscle.

Full Review… | June 23, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

This is the kind of movie that almost always feels phony, but "Under Fire" feels real.

Full Review… | October 23, 2004
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic

Means well but it is fatally confused.

Full Review… | May 20, 2003
New York Times
Top Critic

Anyone who (like me) is a sucker for 80s political thrillers set in troubled foreign lands will find this a must-watch, in the same class as The Killing Fields, Missing, Salvador and The Year of Living Dangerously.

Full Review… | March 11, 2015
Creative Loafing

[Spottiswoode] succeeds brilliantly in creating the chaotic last days of Somoza's government while at the same time incisively evaluating the moral dilemma faced by war correspondents.

Full Review… | January 3, 2012
TV Guide

Audience Reviews for Under Fire

I found this movie sanctimonious 30 years ago and I find it so now. I still like it simply because I like the subject, the period, and the cast; but for all its alleged moral conundrums and shades of gray, at its heart it is really a self-congratulatory liberal happy-movie. In it a character who supports Somoza exclaims, "In twenty years we'll see who's right!" Thirty years later I'm more confident than ever he was. Reagan and Bush caught a lot of flack for their policies, but the record speaks for itself. By 1993 practically the only country in all of Latin America that was not a democracy was that erstwhile favorite of the Left, Cuba. Perhaps Hollywood will make a movie based on that, but I doubt it.

Roy Smith
Roy Smith

(***): [img]http://images.rottentomatoes.com/images/user/icons/icon14.gif[/img] Interesting and well acted.

TTT C
TTT C
½

Three outstanding performances highlight this gritty drama.

jay nixon
jay nixon

Super Reviewer

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