Tuesday, May 02, 2006


RUN TIME: 116 min.
RATING: ****
GENRE: Action, Political, Terrorist, Drama, Thriller

THE SEIGE has got to be one of the best movies ever to be made on the subject of terrorism. It deals with topics never ever dealt with before. 8 years since its release the plot and the movie seem to be a lot more relevant and profound.
The movie starts of with a bombing in Oklahoma City which is linked to a Middle East religious and extremist leader Sheikh Ahmed Bin Talal. He is then captured by a group of people apparently led by a man (character played by Bruce Willis whose role is ambiguous till more of the plot unfolds). This immediately is followed by a hoax hijacking of a bus in New York City where many of the passengers are sprayed upon by a blue paint. FBI agents Anthony Hubbard (Denzel Washington) and Frank Haddad (Tony Shalhoub) are the ones in charge if it. Suspects are questioned, put into play and there enters NSA agent Elise Kraft ( Annette Benning) who for the most part seems to work against Tony Hubbard. The plot unfolds leading to a lot of terrorist bombings and the eventual rule of military on the streets of New York City. The forces are led by General William Devereaux (Bruce Willis) who just goes on the rampage to find out the terrorists.
Any more of the plot from my side will lead to spoilers.
Now the review.
Technically the movie is a straight out winner on all fronts. The bombing scenes are just the in the right tone. It happens in many movies of this kind that the explosions become more of a spectacle than actually being a tragic event. And each of the explosions save for one evoke the desired reaction. In fact the first bombing of a New York City bus has got to be one of the finest explosion scenes in quite a few years. The siege of New York City by the army shows New York in a light never ever shown before. The explosion at Times Square just is horrific and tragic at the same time.
The movie raises a lot of questions. In a way that is the movie’s failing that it raises a lot of questions and gives too few answers. But for me personally, I prefer such movies. Movies which raise questions and then give the answers in the same 21/2 hrs seem dumb to me. This movie does what many movies don’t. It respects the intelligence of the audience. I am pretty sure that some people will get all the wrong notions about the community in question in the movie. But it is a bit of a controversial movie even if it wasn’t realized back then. The movie never ever is communal or racist and in fact finds the villains in our own backyard.
The performances are top-notch. Denzel Washington is what we have come to expect of him. He is a powerhouse in every scene. He never seems to be preachy while delivering a monologue. On the contrary he is always speaking his heart out. The scene immediately following the bus explosion finds Washington at the top of his game.
Annette Bening has a way of getting inside a character. It is no different here. She is sufficiently mysterious and double edged. She seems just like a pro that has seen a lot of action.
Tony Shalhoub is very good as the FBI agent with a Middle East background. He brings a sense of grounded ness to the role. Many similar characters in many such movies become so typical and end up becoming caricatures. But not this one. It is supporting actors like this that make a good movie. It is sad that they don’t always deserve the recognition that lead actors get.
But the performance of the movie for me is that of Bruce Willis’. He is powerful and authoritative. This is a new ground for him and he shows a side that was never ever seen before. It is so difficult to believe that this was the same guy who fought 6 terrorists in a building. His performance past the siege of NYC just reaches another level.
Director Edward Zwick (COURAGE UNDER FIRE, GLORY, LEGENDS OF THE FALL) has delivered another powerful movie. It is hard to find such brainy movies and this sure is one. The subjects it deals with are so sensitive. It sure does breach the line sometimes but that is movies are for. JFK did it, A CLOCKWORK ORANGE did it.
This is not the ultimate terrorist movie. But this is one movie that demands a second watching. It is intelligent and emotional at the same time. And it has got characters that you really care for. But more than that it deals with a topic that is burning hot today. It questions the government in charge of the democracy we are so proud of. As it says in the movie, the scenes are so familiar in other parts of the world. But what happens when it is our country. It just elaborates more on the question that was raised by Kevin Costner in JFK. And it correctly leaves the debate wide open rather than answering it.


WANK4U said...


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