Beyond Rangoon (1995)

We could paraphrase Michelle Pfieffer's character in DANGEROUS MINDS 
and say that BEYOND RANGOON starts with an "A".  That's fair enough.  
All movies, like all school children, should be given the benefit of 
the doubt.  The chance to succeed.  After all, we like to think that 
the right combination of talent and effort can do wonders.  Mountains 
can be moved, and good movies can be made.  Yeah right.  Children 
fail, as do films.  As does director John Boorman's latest. 
The success of BEYOND RANGOON hinges on the believability of Patricia  
Arquette (ED WOOD, TRUE ROMANCE) as the busty Westerner-in-peril  
wandering about 1988 Burma without a passport.  Though we can stomach  
the mild plot contrivances that get her there, it's a tougher task to  
overlook the actress.  She's a lightweight.  As the first scene (with  
narration!) demonstrates, she doesn't have *nearly* enough range for 
the emotions that her character-- a mother fleeing the memories of a  
murdered husband and son-- is supposed to show.  She may give a 
stronger performance than, say, Keanu Reeves in A WALK IN THE CLOUDS, 
by not by much.   
BEYOND RANGOON is a very physically appealing film, thanks to the  
practiced craftsmanship of John Boorman (DELIVERANCE, EXCALIBUR, HOPE  
AND GLORY).  He keeps the narrative moving, no matter how muddy the  
story-- or the heroine-- gets.  Why he chose Arquette remains a 
mystery, though.  Maybe he was thinking that the dramatic weight of 
the story would overcome any casting deficiencies.  But even after an 
hour of half-stated political statements and murky mass killings, we 
*still* don't know enough of what's happening in this country to feel 
distressed for the characters or their situations.  Empty exoticism. 
The technical credits in BEYOND RANGOON are a curious mix, combining  
lush jungle photography with bad blue-screen work.  Also odd is the  
obvious dubbing.  Done to make some of the foreign characters sound 
less foreign?  And, is it my mistake, or do the same extras keep 
reappearing as different soldiers??  Doo doo doo doo.  ["Twilight 
Zone" theme, or opinion of movie.  You be the judge.] 
Grade: D+ 

Copyright 1995 by Michael J. Legeros 

Originally posted to triangle.movies

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