2002 Certificate: 15


The two Johns - Travolta and "Die Hard" director McTiernan team up for the first time to make an action thriller featuring American dirty tricks. He plays a maverick government investigator called in to interrogate the survivor of a mystery massacre of what appears to be a rogue bunch of US soldiers in the Panamanian jungle. Intrigue and big bangs in equal measure.


  • John McTiernan


  • Connie Nielsen

  • Timothy Daly

  • Samuel L Jackson

  • Giovanni Ribisi

  • John Travolta


Quentin Tarantino's leg-up to John Travolta's ailing career may have restored faith in Hollywood humanity but after seeing this you rather wish he hadn't bothered.

Since his Lazarus routine courtesy of Pulp Fiction, Travolta second time around is beginning to morph into a bloated parody of himself thanks to a succession of self-satisfied roles.

OK, Get Shorty, Face/Off and The Thin Red Line were decent offerings by anybody's reckoning...but then along came Battlefield Earth, Domestic Disturbance and the over-stylised Swordfish.

While his critical stock continues to sink his pay demands escalate almost as wildly as his weight fluctuates.

McTiernan, who memorably directed the Die Hard series, does Travolta no favours by casting him as a maverick DEA renegade called in to interrogate the survivor of a mystery massacre.

Tough-as-nails army instructor Sgt Nathan West (Jackson) and six recruits have failed to return from a training mission into the Panamanian jungle.

On a search-and-rescue mission, army officers witness three of his soldiers taking potshots at one another but manage to evacuate one rookie from the carnage.

When greenhorn interrogator Julia Osborne (Nielsen) fails to find out what happened, a gurning Travolta is called in by his old boss Tim Daly to get to the bottom of it.

A series of flashbacks attempts to illustrate what happened that fateful night...but McTiernan has sacrificed character development for cheap intrigue.

It appears a rogue bunch of soldiers may have something to do with it and there's more conspiracy theories flying around than the AGM of Friends of The Matrix.

Thumping sound affects practically drown out the dialogue, which doesn't make much sense when you get to hear it, while the characters are so paper thing they'd blow over in a slight breeze.

To make matters worse, every hole in an already leaky plot is plugged by a denouement which carries with it all the surprise of finding you haven't won the Readers' Digest Prize Draw.

Tim Evans