Synopsis by Bhob Stewart
This remake of Force Majeure (aka Uncontrollable Circumstances), a 1989 film with Alan Bates and Kristin Scott Thomas, recalls the prison plight depicted in Midnight Express (1978). Rambling around Asia, getting high and just having a good time, are three young men -- Sheriff (Vince Vaughn), Lewis (Joaquin Phoenix), and Tony (David Conrad). Sheriff and Tony say goodbye to Lewis, a conscientious Greenpeace activist and nature-lover who stays on to rescue endangered Borneo orangutans. Two years later, Tony is an architect about to marry, and Sheriff has a job driving a limo around New York City. When Beth (Anne Heche) steps into Sheriff's limo, she tells him that she's a lawyer working to save Lewis. He learns that Lewis was arrested by Malaysian authorities, tried as a drug dealer, convicted, and sentenced to death. Sheriff's actions of trashing a borrowed bicycle and casually disposing of 100 grams of hash make him responsible for Lewis's predicament, but does he feel guilty enough to get involved? The execution is only eight days away, but it will not happen if Tony and/or Sheriff return to also serve time -- three years each if both come back, but six years if only one returns. Investigating this story is reporter M.J. Major (Jada Pinkett Smith), who views the situation as an important international news story. Tony readily agrees to go back and save Lewis -- but only if Sheriff also returns with him. Sheriff initially declines, prompting the desperate Beth to find ways to convince him to go. Complicating matters, Sheriff and Beth begin to find they are attracted to each other. Director Joseph Ruben filmed in Hong Kong, Macao, and Thailand, with Malaysian prison interiors shot in Philadelphia.
activism, capital-punishment, conviction, execution, reporter, responsibility, environmentalism
High Production Values