Proof of Life

Movie review by
Nell Minow, Common Sense Media
Proof of Life Movie Poster Image
Good story, but too violent for kids.
  • R
  • 2000
  • 135 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Violence

Shoot-outs, torture, tense scenes of peril, many deaths.

Sex

Mild.

Language

Strong language.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Characters drink and smoke and use drugs.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this movie is very violent, with a lot of shooting and explosions and many deaths. Characters use very strong language. One of the bad guys uses drugs, and some of the good guys drink as a response to stress and as a way of bonding.

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What's the story?

PROOF OF LIFE begins with its hero, Terry Thorne (Russell Crowe) sitting in a conference room giving a dry recital of his most recent success, the official report belied by scenes of what really happened, a shoot-out and perilous rescue by helicopter. Then we see Alice and Peter Bowman (Meg Ryan and David Morse), a loving but discontented couple living in South America, where Peter is overseeing construction of a dam. Alice is frustrated and unhappy, mourning a miscarriage. Peter is also frustrated, because none of his equipment has arrived, and he feels he can't make Alice happy. Then Peter is kidnapped, and Terry arrives to handle the negotiations -- until it turns out that Peter's company has not paid its insurance premiums, and Terry's firm orders him home. Terry leaves, but then returns, out of a sense of honor or because he is drawn to Alice, or both. The story shifts back and forth from Terry's attempts to get the kidnappers to agree to a ransom amount, to Peter, being held in the mountains. Then, Terry learns that he must go in commando-style to rescue Peter.

Is it any good?

Another stunning performance from Russell Crowe holds together a movie that is otherwise not sure exactly what it wants to be. But if you want some Rambo action, there's plenty to be had here. Crowe is magnificent, a reluctant hero out of a Bogart movie, with Bogart's combination of ideals and complete lack of illusion. Offscreen, Ryan and Crowe had a romance that made headlines, but onscreen, there is not much beyond some meaningful glances and one brief conversation that Crowe makes heartbreaking.

Ryan does her best to make Alice smart and tough, but neither she nor Morse as Peter are able to make us care very deeply. Pamela Reed makes a welcome appearance as Peter's sister and David Caruso is excellent as Terry's friend and compatriot. Peter's scenes are intended to show his response to the deprivation and torture and his efforts to fight back or escape, but they are the weakest in the movie, failing to maintain tension or even sympathy.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how people evaluate risks and how they decide whom to trust. Why did Terry come back? What will he do next?

Movie details

For kids who love thrills

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