This creaky, overlong drama provides an uneasy mixture of romance, intrigue, and political rumination. Gorgeous settings, an A-list cast, and a novel take on the Casablanca plot arc cannot save director Sydney Pollack from overambition. Glacial in both pace and size, the 145-minute Havana slowly sinks like a damaged ship, its card-shark flash and alluring sex appeal leaking away minute by agonizing minute. Robert Redford gives a grown-up, world-wise performance, while Lena Olin smolders and mouths slogans with equal aplomb. But unlike the Humphrey Bogart vehicles on which it's so clearly based, Havana simply doesn't know how to keep things moving along. Too many characters, too many plot twists, and too many debates about hedonism vs. social responsibility give the entire picture the feel of a historical tome or a civics lecture. By the time the coup finally comes, the audience itself may jump for joy. Viva la revolucion, indeed.
by Brian J. Dillard review