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Beyond Borders

  • compiled by Jeffrey Overstreet Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2003 1 Jan
Beyond Borders
from Film Forum, 10/30/03

In Beyond Borders, Angelina Jolie (Lara Croft: Tomb Raider) plays Sarah, an American woman living in London. Sarah is shocked into grief and action when a handsome, roguish relief worker, Dr. Nick Callahan (Clive Owen), introduces her to the hard facts about suffering in Africa. As she learns more about the humanitarian crises on the war-torn continent, she is drawn to Ethiopia, strives to serve the needy, and (of course) finds herself passionately in love with Callahan.

Jolie herself has undergone a similarly transforming experience, speaking out on the need for humanitarian aid to suffering nations and taking a step herself by adopting a Cambodian orphan. And yet, while her passionate advocacy is admirable, her movie, directed by Martin Campbell (Maverick, The Mask of Zorro) is not passing tests for artistry.

Loren Eaton (Plugged In) says, "Beyond Borders … slaps Americans across the face with bleak realities … beyond our comfortable comprehension. It will, at the very least, make American moviegoers heartily thankful for their country. [However,] its episodic, over-long, meandering plot gets tiresome. The tissue-paper thin love story … all too quickly attempts to justify adultery. And Nick's bouts of profanity are ear-stinging."

"Despite the sincerity of its humanitarian message," says David DiCerto (CNS), "Campbell's film suffers from severe narrative malnutrition, with characters less fleshed out than the famine victims they champion. The movie's humanitarian message never evolves past preachy we-are-the-world moralizing. A more apt title may have been Beyond Boredom."

"Good intentions in moviemaking do not always lead to good results," says Michael Medved (Crosswalk). "Jolie's preachy, pathetic Beyond Borders represents an especially painful case in point."