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"Beyond Borders" Movie Review

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Angelina Jolie Photo from Beyond Borders movie

Angelina Jolie stars as Sarah Jordan in "Beyond Borders."

Paramount Pictures
Pick your own tagline for this one. My suggestions: “Beyond Boredom” or “Beyond Belief” or “Why Isn’t There Anything Entertaining About This Movie?” or “Clive Owen is Great But…” or “A Love Story Without Chemistry.” I could go on and on.

What starts out with an interesting premise quickly deteriorates into a cockeyed political statement. If you support the humanitarian work prominently featured in “Beyond Borders,” you’ll be disappointed in how Hollywood has taken an important program and screwed around with its basic mission statement.

In a nutshell, the story follows Sarah Jordan (Angelina Jolie) who is married to Henry Bauford (Linus Roache), the son of an extremely wealthy British industrialist. At a fundraiser to support relief efforts, Sarah is moved beyond words when Dr. Nick Callahan (Clive Owen) shows up with a suffering child and unleashes a tirade about the lack of money and support his program is receiving from the sponsoring charity. Sarah decides to pull together all of her available money, purchase supplies on her own, and deliver them in person to his far-off relief settlement.

Predictably, Sarah’s deeply affected by what she sees. She’s so moved that over the course of 48 or so hours, she bonds with Nick and his fellow relief workers (but mostly Nick – this is a ‘romance’) so strongly that it totally changes her life. She begins working for the U.N. and over the course of the next dozen or so years, meets up with Nick in various war-torn locales, always leaving him after a few days to return to her husband.

Getting past the preachiness of the film is just one stumbling block. Unfortunately, the filmmakers created a flood of unbelievable vignettes. Too many times the film forces you to go along with a storyline that leaves you shaking your head. When there finally is dialogue or a scene that seems real, the movie has to immediately punish itself by serving up a couple of scenes that don’t make sense. Then there’s the convenient plot turns. One of the most obvious and grating is taking Sarah’s nice guy husband, making him lose all of his wealth in the stock market crash, and then setting him up so he’s caught alone with another woman. Their sexual tryst is implied not shown, but it’s all so very see-through. The filmmakers have to make the husband into an unlikable guy so the audience doesn’t see Jolie’s character as the only flawed one in the marriage. It’s too transparent to be plausible.

I also couldn’t get past the fact that Nick Callahan, this good-hearted doctor with all of the best intentions, seems to flit from country to country while crying for more help, making it appear that he deserts people in need to go find more people in need. It’s not necessary to show the suffering throughout the world, we understand that’s the point of the movie. But what’s not understandable is moving Dr. Callahan around so often. Maybe this is how it happens in the real world but in this movie world, it only serves to confuse the issue.

There's also the issue of the non-existent chemistry between Clive Owen and Angelina Jolie, two actors who fairly sizzle with sexuality. Placed together, you’d think the screen would ignite. You’d be wrong. Jolie appears vacant and Clive Owen, as hard as he tries and as naturally sexy as he is, can not overcome working opposite an actress he doesn’t appear to connect with. Long camera shots of the two staring deeply into each other’s eyes do not make up for the lack of a spark. And their kissing scenes… They were disturbing to me, coming across looking more vicious than sexual.

Described as a ‘thrilling romantic adventure,’ “Beyond Borders” fails to deliver on the thrills and features an uninspiring romance. At the end, it seems like a pointless tale not worthy of its talented cast.

GRADE: D+

"Beyond Borders" was directed by Martin Campbell and is rated R for language and war-related violence.

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