- compiled by Jeffrey Overstreet Copyright Christianity Today International
- 2002 1 Jan
So critics are wondering why such talented filmmakers agreed to bring such a terrible script to the screen.
"This movie feels like a paint-by-numbers operation," says J. Robert Parks (The Phantom Tollbooth). "Take a standard conspiracy-thriller canvas, add the paint of two likable and bankable stars, add some red (herring) flourishes, and wrap it up with a twist ending. Judd gives a solid performance and Freeman is great as always … but the talent in front of and behind the camera can't overcome the boring, derivative script."
Steven D. Greydanus (Decent Films) says, "Once you begin thinking about it … the whole thing starts to break down. The military … comes off as a corrupt world in which everyone is protecting a secret and doesn't care who gets hurt in the process. The filmmakers try to create the impression of a happy ending with a tacked-on denouement. The determinedly perky sitcom banter of these final moments serves only to ensure that
The USCCB critic describes it as "Well acted and nicely paced … It's possible to enjoy the movie if you just let it wash over you, but once you try to connect the dots, the whole plot collapses in a senseless finale of unanswered questions."
Michael Elliott (Movie Parables) praises the cast: "The film's saving grace is the seemingly effortless work of Ashley Judd and Morgan Freeman. Freeman is, quite simply, a joy to watch."
"For the first hour and 45 minutes,
Smithouser adds a question raised by many other critics: "Is it just me or is this a remarkably inappropriate time to release a drama that so thoroughly vilifies the American military?"
Lisa Rice (
"Well, it looks as if Hollywood's brief love affair with the military has come to an end," says Phil Boatwright (The Movie Reporter). "
Boatwright also complains about Jim Caviezel's use of God's name in vain in the film: "I have always wondered how Christian actors justify the profaning of God's name while on camera. In Exodus 20, we are instructed, 'You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God … ' And it doesn't add, 'Unless you are in a movie.'"
Similarly, Paul Bicking (Preview) says "vulgar dialogue and sexual content earns a guilty verdict for
Holly McClure (Crosswalk) writes, "I enjoyed this movie mainly because of the cast, but the story was also interesting and entertaining. I have to qualify my praise by saying that I was rewriting the ending in my head as I left the theater, wishing the filmmakers had gone for something more realistic and creative than a clichéd 'Hollywood' ending."
Only Douglas Downs (Christian Spotlight) takes a strong positive view of the film: "There is plenty of suspense and the soundtrack is perfect for this film. I love the unique blend of the hyper and the hokey as … Franklin pushes our buttons. Though still flawed, this could be the perfect date movie."
Mainstream critics took turns scoffing at the implausibilities and contrived plot twists. Stephen Hunter () says the movie "isn't worth the crayons used to write the script." And Lou Lumenick (New York Post) says it "feels like the product of a computer program that's assembled every cliché and stereotype of court-martial thrillers."