review for Under Fire on AllMovie

Under Fire (1983)
by Michael Costello review

Nick Nolte stars as photojournalist Russell Price in Roger Spottiswoode's occasionally interesting but ultimately unsatisfying film on the Nicaraguan civil war of the early '80s. Like nearly every Hollywood film dealing with war, this one includes an obligatory romance, in this case a triangle, which like his later political film No Way Out (1987), also involves Gene Hackman. As admirable as the film may have been in criticizing American interests for aligning themselves with the corrupt regime of Anastasio Somoza, it never really spells out the full extent of his family's corruption or the brutality of his dictatorship. Still, it's at least willing to identify the nation's sequestered plutocrats as the source of its problems. In a film which consists mainly of Nolte and radio journalist Joanna Cassidy running from one battle to another, their characters are barely developed and their romance is little more than an afterthought. If it fails as drama though, it succeeds in a semi-documentary mode, as one of the very few features which have focused on the physical and moral hazards of the life of a combat photographer. Similarly, Ed Harris' mercenary offers an incisive thumbnail sketch of that profession's malleability. The excellent cast is as good as the mediocre script permits, and the highly underrated Cassidy shines.