Wednesday, February 18, 2004

On the flight over here I caught the last half hour of Beyond Borders, the controversial new Angelina Jolie movie about aid workers.

Angelie Jolie filled the screen with all the presence of a shop window mannequin with an allergy to bees.

I can’t recommend it.

For a start it regurgitates every third world stereotype imaginable; oppressed and helpless peasants are brutalised by wild-eyed, crooked-toothed warlords. The “Cambodian” scenes were filmed in Thailand and the “London” scenes certainly weren’t shot in the city I live it. I suspect they were filmed on location in somewhere like Canada, to take advantage of the tax breaks.

But more importantly, it’s a deeply irresponsible piece of film making.

Every major Hollywood release is pirated onto VCDs and DVDs and sold in souks and bazaars from Tajikistan to Taipei. A movie about an aid worker who smuggles weapons in crates full of prosthetic limbs and humanitarian supplies will cause confusion and distrust among the very people the NGOs portrayed in it are trying to help.

Hopefully by now I’ve put you off, but if not look away now if you don’t want me to spoil the ending. It features the oldest landmine cliché in Hollywood. Miss Pouty Lips rescues the love of her life -- renegade doctor Nick -- from bandidos (wild-eyed, crooked-toothed, of course) in war-torn Chechnya, only to step on a mine while running for help. She steps on the device and CLICK! suddenly realises what she’s done. Angelina stands there for a moment, frozen to the spot, knowing that as soon as she moves her foot she’s going to get wasted.

Then -- BOOOMSKI! She lifts her foot and goes up in smoke, leaving a big crater and thick clots of collagen spattered all over the battlefield.

Good riddance. It was a crap film anyway. Can we go to the pub now, please?

Nice dramatic climax but sorry, it doesn’t happen in real life (and I think I’m able to speak from experience, don’t you?). As any mine clearer (or victim) will tell you, landmines are triggered by stepping ON them, not OFF them. The pressure pad on top pushes down a plunger which detonates the explosive charge in the mine and voila – your foot’s bacon.

And Angelina of all people knows that.

I’ll forgive her, however, because she does look spectacular in a sweaty vest.


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