Beyond Borders Martin Campbell

Beyond BordersMartin Campbell
This distasteful white elephant, an Oliver Stone hand-me-down, pairs the painful world of relief work with the zing of forbidden romance, an uncomfortable juxtaposition that stinks of Gone With the Wind. Luckily, the masses weren't suckered into loving this grotesque epic the way they were in 1939. Our heroes here are a rogue doctor (Clive Owen) and a wealthy philanthropist (Angelina Jolie), two white Westerners who dedicate their lives to playing God in depressed yet gorgeous locales. Yes, the camera dwells on majestic African sunsets (Ethiopia, 1984), lush Asian jungles (Cambodia, 1989) and snow-blue Russian landscapes (Chechnya, 1995), occasionally pausing the exotic travelogue to show a starving woman being eaten by vultures, a crying baby playing with a grenade or an action-packed machine gun battle. The film deals with the horror of famine and war, as well as the terror of warlords, guerrillas and (in a more passive sense) half-assed government officials and lawmakers, yet it still manages to be a dull issues film. And the romance is crap. The sexual tension and mad love between our sensitive he-man and fish-faced superwoman is hinted at and implied forever until, in one five-minute sequence, they have sex, declare their love and split up (temporarily) with one of those fiery "it's not meant to be" exchanges. The "making of" featurettes offer a few interesting factoids about the shoot in Thailand, Namibia and Montreal — Can-con music fans should note that the band playing early in the film features Sam Roberts and Melissa Auf der Maur. Campbell spends most of the commentary boasting about stats (2,500 extras!), sets, complex shots and screening the film for Kofi Annan (seriously, this comes up, like, four times), as well as praising all the supporting actors I thought were drips, weak cogs in this flagrant pap-without-borders machine. (Paramount)