The End Of Violence

***

Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

A Hollywood producer, famed for violent movies, is kidnappped, trussed up like a turkey and driven to a place of execution under the Los Angeles freeway. His two attackers argue about who is going to pull the trigger. In the end, neither do. They have their faces blown away instead. By whom? That is the mystery. Or rather, one of them.

Wim Wenders is a consummate film junkie. He can't keep off the stuff and even when the studio supply runs out, he creates his own alternative source. As here. He and screenwriter Nicholas Klein spent two years preparing a sci-fi picture that went into tempo turnaround. Rather than hang about, soaking up LA gossip, they decided to put something together on a subject that concerns most paranoid Tinseltownies - the prospect of a violent death.

The result is more accessable than David Lynch's Lost Highway, although not dissimilar in its oblique coincidences. It is an engrossing, if unlikely tale of a rich man's recognition that workaholism teaches you nothing of the human condition and a beautiful woman's realisation that she cannot lounge around an expensively decorated Hollywood hideaway without some compensation for being last in line after her old man's communications gizmology.

Mike Max (Bill Pullman) is the producer who has let success eat him for lunch and Paige Stockard (Andie Macdowell) the wife who is constantly packing a bag for her last big gesture. He treats his minions, including the lawyer who won't do what he wants, like peanut shells. Paige pleads for his attention. He takes another call and drives off to a meeting.

After his kidnap and ultimate escape, the cops are after him as prime suspect. He lays low in a Mexican gardener's outhouse and discovers a whole new way of life, based on family values and relative poverty. Paige, meanwhile, takes a grip of his business empire and rather warms to the power trip. The 'tec on the case (Loren Dean), a sensitive soul with the looks of Christian Slater's cuter cousin, falls head over loafers for the soft skinned, sexy stuntgirl (Traci Lind), who was the last person to see Max in one piece.

There is also a subplot involving a depressed ex-NASA operative (Gabriel Byrne) who works in a planetarium that has been converted into a surveillance centre and worries about the voyeuristic nature of his bosses' motives.

No one is quite who they seem, which suits the peculiar Californian unease that comes with bad air. It is a film that denies the formulaic approach to thrillers and is never less than a suprise. Whether it says anything meaningful about the state of violence, or even sustains a credible plotline, is another matter. It is beautiful to look at and always interesting. Wenders can be pretentious and he can be dull. He's neither here. Just mysterious.

Reviewed on: 19 Jan 2001
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A workaholic LA producer is kidnapped and escapes leading to a re-examination of his life and a hefty slice of intrigue.
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Director: Wim Wenders

Writer: Nicholas Klein, Wim Wenders

Starring: Bill Pullman, Andie Macdowell, Gabriel Byrne

Year: 1997

Runtime: 122 minutes

BBFC: 18 - Age Restricted

Country: France, Germany, USA

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