Beyond Borders Review
By Shawn McKenzie 10/25/2003
I understand why Angelina Jolie did Beyond Borders. After a string of bombs, including Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life, she needed another “Oscar fodder” movie. Despite some decent acting, I don’t think this one is it.
The movie takes place in three different time periods. The first one is in London in 1984. Sarah Jordan (Jolie) is an American living a pampered life with her new British husband, Henry Bauford (Linus Roache.) At a fancy wedding reception hosted by Henry’s father Lawrence (Timothy West), a rebel doctor named Nick Callahan (Clive Owen) bursts in with a little Ethiopian boy and protests the cut in funds for the relief camps where he works in Africa that were being funded by Lawrence. Sarah feels sorry for Nick’s plight, so she decides to visit his latest camp in Ethiopia. She meets Nick’s associates there, including his less dramatic partner, Elliott Hauser (Noah Emmerich.) She also tries to save an Ethiopian boy and her mother. Nick regards her help as just a rich woman wanting to unburden her guilt at first, but eventually sees her actual compassion. Compared to Nick and Elliot, her stay there is relatively short, but she becomes more involved in humanitarian aid via the U.N. Next, we jump to 1989. We’re back in London, and Sarah has a son with Henry, but her marriage is in trouble. Elliot comes to visit her hoping that she might put a U.N. stamp on a shipment of supplies into a Cambodian refugee camp. She not only does that, but she insists on tagging along with them on the mission. While in Cambodia, love with Nick blooms and a tragic event happens with someone else. Finally, we jump to 1995. We’re in London again, Sarah has her son and now a daughter, and her marriage to Henry seems to have mended. Her TV anchor sister, Charlotte (Teri Polo), finds out that Nick is missing somewhere in Chechnya due to his involvement with covert CIA operative named Jan Steiger (Yorick van Wageningen.) Against Henry’s wishes, she sets out to find him, because she still loves him and she has a secret to tell him.
This movie fulfilled two things for Jolie. First, it was so she could be taken seriously in a movie again, and possibly see some more Oscar lovin’. Second, it gave her a chance to expose the problems in her adopted son’s homeland of Cambodia. She wanted to make us all feel sorry for the less fortunate lands and abandon our families to do charity work as she did in the movie.
I’m not sure she will succeed in either venture. The acting is decent, but the story is so preachy and boring that I think it will be ignored come nomination time. As for the second thing, I think charity should begin at home, and I think her work at the U.N. probably did more overall good than her participation in the missions. That’s just my opinion though.
Finally, I have to say that the love story felt tacked on. They needed more than just her compassion to give her an excuse to keep going on the missions, so they created this relationship between Sarah and Nick. Jolie and Owen had okay chemistry, but it felt so unnecessary.
Maybe I should say that Beyond Borders as a whole was unnecessary. I doubt it will garner a little gold statue for anyone involved, and it will bore you for a little over two hours. I think Jolie will have better luck next year with Oliver Stone’s Alexander, so I think I will wait until then to take her seriously.
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