Terrorism is a common subject in today's news. There is no denying the fact that everyone is at risk; terrorists seem to attack various places, not all with reason, just to get a point across. Anyone could be in the spot where a bomb goes off but not many really consider it. It could never happen to them. But what if it did? What if terrorism got so bad that no one was safe? What if terrorism got so bad that the government would quarantine a city to capture those responsible?
From the people that brought us the masterpiece Courage Under Fire comes The Siege, an anti-terrorist movie surrounding Denzel Washington. The Siege, title deceiving, is about terrorism, and how our nation would deal with it. Of course, being a high budget movie, the steps taken are extreme enough to draw people to the theaters. The army is sent in after the President declares Marshall Law and all Arab-speaking people are herded into concentration camps, innocent people are frisked, and the officials resort to torture to get information. Let's just say it's not pleasant.
There were more problems with The Siege than highlights, and the topic of prejudice was one of them. Sure, the FBI were searching for Iranian terrorists but there was no sense that the Army was; they were trying to get terrorists. Period. So why is it that only people from the Middle East were put in the camps? Aren't there other nationalities responsible for terrorism? The Siege shouldn't have been so precise as to who they were locking up, or at least involve some other races.
Political correctness aside, however, there were more film-related problems with The Siege. The movie starts out good, with great cinematography and foreshadowing of what's to come. But then we're introduced to Hubbard (Denzel Washington) which takes stereotypes to the maximum. He knows just what to do every time, he never stutters over what to say, and faces gun blazing terrorists without a second's hesitation. We've seen this character several times in the past, previous Washington characters included, and gets old extremely fast.
Elise should have been played by someone other than Annette Bening. She didn't fit in the role at all and even in the script, her character was a nuisance. Elise was neither mysterious nor sexy, as they tried to make her, and any sense of compassion that was supposed to be felt towards her was invisible.
Dealing with the actual storyline, The Siege was shaky and unattractive. The only big explosion they actually showed was that of the bus, which was seen in the previews. The Army arrives more than an hour after the movie starts and their effect on the city was not looked into as much as it should have been. Even though the last two sentences were concise, they describe the major problems of The Siege. They are obvious, undeniable, and unforgivable. The final downfall of The Siege was the ending. The conclusion was brief and unclimatic, with no "race against the bomb" which, while not clichéd, does not provide much suspense.
There were some good parts in The Siege which kept it alive but overall, it could have been a lot better. There were just too many aspects which hindered the movie's progress. If you want to see an action-packed thriller with lots of terrorists, go see something else. The Siege is not what you're looking for.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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