Beyond Borders Movie Review

Anyone with a minimum television I.Q, who has seen Sally Struthers' infomercials, knows there are people in the world who are suffering. For most civil wars or cases of starvation, there is an admirable and often thankless effort by those more fortunate to help these people. Beyond Borders glorifies this crusade, yet the movie does nothing to explain the importance of the effort or why so many are willing to risk their lives to help. It seems totally content to use this humanitarian effort as a means to tell a listless and insulting romance.

Angelina Jolie is Sara Jordan, an American in London who is trapped in a meaningless life and a dismal marriage. At a humanitarian aid concert, she meets a crusader named Nick Callahan (Clive Owen) whose passion for helping the less fortunate gives her life a new direction. For the next 11 years, the lovestruck Sarah abandons her son and husband (Linus Roache) to fund and follow doctor Nick's efforts as he travels to some of the world's most desolate places: the Ethiopian desert, the jungles of Cambodia, and the snow-covered slopes of Chechnya.

What starts as a great idea quickly devolves into meaningless romance when we realize that director Martin Campbell (who picked up Borders after Oliver Stone dropped out) has little interest in telling a human-interest story. We jump from country to country at exact five-year increments to bear witness to the depravity of starving children dying and guns pointed at innocent civilians. Instead of helping those in need cope, we get a myriad of scenes with Sarah and Nick arguing over relief shipments and medical treatments. They're so concerned with their supplies, yet when the supplies do arrive, we're not privy to what they do with them.

Beyond Borders would make a wonderful documentary about the struggles that Struthers-types face helping tattered societies rebuild their lives. Even a smaller film about two people who fall in love with their work would outplay the effort here. More and more it seems as if we can't have a mainstream movie about something important without putting it in the context of a romance. This is the same problem I had with last year's The Four Feathers. What bothers me the most about Borders is how these two people with absolutely no chemistry are apparently willing to nobly risk their lives to help people, yet they have time for love while the people they are there to help are dying. How absurd!

There is nothing redeeming or important about Beyond Borders. If third-world propaganda is what you want, then find one of Struthers' infomercials - it's much shorter, more meaningful, and a lot cheaper than this two-hour clunker.

A commentary track and extensive making-of footage append the DVD, but it's a little short called "Angelina: Goodwill Ambassador" that will have your jaded eyes a-rolling.

Jolie chases after another child to adopt.


Beyond Borders Rating

" Unbearable "

Rating: R, 2003


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