White Man's Burden (1995)

Genres - Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Message Movie, Americana, Crime Drama  |   Release Date - Dec 1, 1995 (USA)  |   Run Time - 90 min.  |   Countries - France, United States  |   MPAA Rating - R
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Review by Karl Williams

Writer/director Desmond Nakano starts this drama off strong with a nervy premise that promises to penetratingly examine racism from a startling, fresh perspective, but quickly goes off on a second act action flick tangent, never regaining its narrative footing. There's fodder here for a truly raw, deeply unsettling story that forces the viewer to examine preconceived notions and dormant prejudices, and for about the first 20 minutes or so of its running time, Nakano's film does exactly that. Jolted out of complacency, the intrigued viewer will then be intellectually disappointed when the rest of the tale turns out to be nothing much more than an offbeat buddy flick with predictable pursuit beats. As a blue-collar worker devastated and pushed to the brink of madness by a layoff, John Travolta is fairly effective, although his performance is rather shallow compared to the star turn by Harry Belafonte, who oozes entitlement and condescension. White Man's Burden (1995) is a noble failure that should have had too much to say about its riveting subject matter but somehow ended up with not quite enough substance.