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Beyond Borders  (2003)

 

Rating: R

Distributor: Paramount Home Entertainment

Release Date: March 23, 2004
Review posted: April 6, 2004

Spoilers: Minor

 

Reviewed by Dennis Landmann

 

SYNOPSIS

 

While attending a fundraising gala, Sarah Jordan (Angelina Jolie), a naive, married American socialite living in England, witnesses a fiery plea delivered by an intruder-renegade humanitarian, Dr. Nick Callahan (Clive Owen). His plea, made on behalf of impoverished African children under his care, turns Sarah's life upside down. Attracted to Nick and his cause, she impulsively abandons her sheltered life in England to work along side him in his effort to aid the helpless and anguished victims. Directed by Martin Campbell.

 

CRITIQUE

 

Beyond Borders is a film about something good; the people and implications of relief work in poor countries. The script is very well researched, contains interesting dialogue, and features some really good moments. However, in between those things is a love story between two people who more or less come from opposite sides of society, but their passion to help others brings them together. The romance between Sarah and Nick doesn't come to fruition until late in the film. At first they seem to dislike each other, but as they work together they begin to see things in common.

 

I'd say this sounds quite good on the page, but it doesn't really work in this film. The romance subplot fails to entice and seem important. Alternatively, the script is more focused on the subject of relief work, which is good. Yet it doesn't go to places right away, instead moving along rather slowly. I don't really mind the film's pace, but I wish the script would've presented a more whole and satisfying storyline. The film is very clearly structured into three acts, and it's a little too obvious, not to mention things move pretty slow after sixty-minute mark.

 

Beyond Borders is not a terrible film. It contains several really good scenes. I like the mysteriousness about Clive Owen's character, and the actor really stands out here. Angelina Jolie makes a decent impression, playing the central character of the story when Nick Callahan is much more interesting. I think the script tells the story from the wrong point of view as I was much more interested in the life of Nick. There's a very small subplot regarding Nick and the smuggling of guns, an aspect I wish the script would've explored, among others, instead of showing us Sarah's faint family life back in England.

 

Director Martin Campbell delivers a strong film in the sense that it is well-made. The cinematography is beautiful, and the locations excellent and rigorous. The acting is really good here, as is James Horner's score. It's really too bad the script didn't focus on the right things. Beyond Borders could've been a powerful film. Its message is invigorating, and it says something really strong about the importance of people like Nick Callahan. Problems withstanding, the film is decent for the most part. Instead, the film ends with an overblown tragedy that says nothing.

 

THE VIDEO

 

Paramount presents Beyond Borders in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. The cinematography for the film is absolutely beautiful, and this presentation looks pretty good. Aside from a little edge enhancement, the quality is quite solid. Colors are well-defined, sharp, and detailed. Each of the film's three acts consist of specific looks and colors, such as the gritty yellow/brown in the middle half and the deep blue during the last 25 minutes. The print image is generally quite clean. There are no problems with dirt or compression artifacts.

 

THE AUDIO

 

Paramount presents Beyond Borders in English 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround Sound. Sound effects of all levels are nicely reinforced by the rear speakers, and dialogue is clear and easy to understand. James Horner's score sounds pretty nice also. The front speakers do a really good job, but the surrounds don't maintain a steady output. Overall, a pretty good presentation. Also available is an English Dolby track as well as a French Dolby dub.

 

THE EXTRAS

 

I'm a little surprised at the amount of extras on this release, and I'm also surprised how good they are.

 

The commentary by director Martin Campbell and Producer Lloyd Phillips contains interesting information on the production, the story, and the relief work process. It's not a great track, but a pretty decent one.
 

Behind the Lines: The Making of Beyond Borders is divided into part 1 (18:41) and part 2 (18:40). I'm not really sure why this isn't just a whole documentary, but that's beside the point. Both parts take a behind-the-scenes look at the filming process, including locations in Canada, Africa, and Thailand.  Interviews with the main cast and crew are also featured. Overall, both parts contribute information that's generally more interesting than the film.

 

The Writing of Beyond Borders (7:32) is a conversation with screenwriter Caspian Tredwell-Owen. Interestingly, he spent some two years researching and writing the script. If you didn't like the film you probably won't find anything here, but it's a nice little featurette on a subject (screenwriting) that's not always acknowledged in most DVD extras.
 

Angelina: Goodwill Ambassador (3:40) focuses on Jolie's work as a UNHCR ambassador. The featurette follows Jolie and several members visiting a camp in Thailand.

You can select to view the film with optional English subtitles. The 126-minute feature is organized into ? chapters. There is no paper insert for this release.

 

FINAL THOUGHTS

 

Beyond Borders is a decent film, but I wonder what Oliver Stone, who originally planned to direct, would have done. Clive Owen is a standout in a film that should've focused on the subject of relief workers instead of a romance. Video/audio is very good, and the extras are informative.

 

VERDICT: RENT IT

 

Home | Back to Top

 

:: The Disc

 

:: Disc Ratings

 

THE MOVIE

6

THE VIDEO

8

THE AUDIO

8

THE EXTRAS

6

OVERALL

6

 

:: Merchandise

 

FILM SCORE

By James Horner

Buy the CD!

 

THE NOVEL

By James Ellison

Buy the Book!