Published Jan 10, 2013In the opening moments of Damian Lee's unconvincing and oft-clumsy eco-thriller, A Dark Truth, a small Ecuadorian village is pillaged, leaving stragglers on the run. There's some buzz about a typhus outbreak and even more about shady corporate dealings and the morality behind privatizing the world's water supply as a commodity.
CIA operative turned Toronto radio talk show host Jack Begosian (Andy Garcia) narrates these discussions with amusingly on-the-nose and prosaic thematic discussions, routinely looking at the ground with intensity and seriousness to let us know that he's not proud of his past. Enter corporate socialite Morgan Swinton (Deborah Kara Unger), offering Begosian a chance at redemption, sending him on a mission to South America to investigate the typhus outbreak and mass slaughter that her brother (Kim Coates), the CEO of her family's company, is trying to cover up.
Presumably, the title of the film refers to some sort of secret conspiracy about the world's water supply, justifying most of the dreadful dialogue and inexplicable need to spell out thematic intentions via exposition. But the real "dark truth" is far less interesting and altruistic.
After an abundance of cheap and clumsy shoot-outs and jungle battle scenes, with Garcia reminding us of his haunted past by sighing or staring at a wall for the umpteenth time, a little monologue about the nature of greed arises, letting us know that the "truth" about the whole Wall Street protest thing is that there's more to it than just greed. Fear and insecurity play into it as well, which apparently has something to do with rush-hour subway passengers putting in a hard day's work for the people they love rather than the money ("they don't make much").
A Dark Truth is convinced that its observations about human nature are somehow profound, which is likely why the film is riddled with these glib assertions of moral ambiguity. The presence of actors like Forrest Whitaker and Eva Longoria suggests only flexibility in production schedules and limited opportunity otherwise.
But just as writer/director Damian Lee's straight-to-DVD filmography suggests, this is little more than cheap cable fare that's as stylistically out-dated as it is rife with glib dichotomies. The men are driven by "rightness" and redemption, while the women merely tag along, when not crying or holding a small child.
A Dark Truth is a conflicted, preachy relic. (eOne)