MRR Movie Review: A Dark Truth


Movie Review: "A Dark Truth"

-- Rating: R
Length: 106 minutes
Release Date: Jan. 4, 2013
Directed by: Damian Lee
Genre: Action/Thriller

"A Dark Truth" is one of those movies that try to educate and entertain at the same time. It earnestly tries to bring awareness and understanding of the underreported but growing problem of the seizure of public water rights. Two big-name actors, Andy Garcia and Forest Whitaker, star in this environmental thriller.

The story begins in Tayca, Ecuador, where a typhus epidemic breaks out after the water filtration system of Clearbec, a giant Canada-based multinational corporation, malfunctions. This event stirs protest in the local community. Armed with rifles, a group of soldier massacres unarmed men, women, and children in an attempt to silence the protest against Clearbec. Tony Green (Steven Bauer), an American who works for corporation, and his Ecuadorian assistant Renaldo (Devon Bostick) watch helplessly as soldiers mow down an entire population.

Renaldo, who lost his entire family in the massacre, confronts Clearbec heiress Morgan Swinton (Deborah Kara Unger) and commits suicide in front of her. Before he pulls the trigger, he pleads with Morgan to uncover the truth about what happened in Tayca.

Morgan goes to her brother Bruce (Kim Coates), who is now the head of Clearbec, and asks, "What happened in Ecuador? What did we do down there?" Bruce evades Morgan's questions but not without telling her that the corporation cannot afford to face even a hint of a scandal now that the company is about to close a gigantic deal involving water rights in South Africa. Unsettled by the recent events involving Clearbec, Morgan hires Jack Begosian (Andy Garcia), a retired CIA operative, to go to Ecuador and find out what is going on.

Begosian's mission is to find American-born environmental activist Francisco Francis (Forest Whitaker) and to bring him to Canada alive. Francis is the key to holding Clearbec responsible for the epidemic outbreak in Tayca and the massacre that followed. He has some solid evidence that links Clearbec to those unfortunate events. Francis and his family, together with a band of environmental activists, are on the run. Clearbec has bribed a number of politicians, police officers, and soldiers to launch a major crackdown on the activists.

Begosian, now a political radio talk show host, is initially hesitant to help Morgan. He is haunted by a dark past and his professional sins. For one, Francis was imprisoned under false charges because of him. However, realizing that the job would give him the chance to redeem himself and that the sizable amount he stands to earn would help his troubled child, he accepts Morgan's offer.

The movie has a relevant message: It is morally reprehensible for multinational corporations to enrich themselves at the expense of poor countries. More specifically, it addresses the issue of water rights. However, when it comes to conveying that message, there is a lot to be desired. It lacks drama that could have brought the point across at an emotional level. It glosses over the important points of the issue, reducing it to a stereotypical battle between good (the eco-activists) and evil (Clearbec, the eco-terrorist).

The movie is more of a gun show, with soldiers spraying an entire population with bullets, Renaldo's shocking suicide, and Begosian's blasting away at his enemies. The scene where Begosian uses a pistol to eliminate soldiers armed with high-powered rifles borders on unrealistic, which is ironic considering that Andy Garcia said, "This is a realistic movie and things should be kept within the boundaries of realism."

Andy Garcia's acting is a little bit monotonous in this film. It is quite painful to see an Oscar-nominated actor teetering on the edge of boredom while he delivers his lines. His performance is okay at best, and those who have seen his previous movies know that he can do a lot better. That said, "A Dark Truth" is still a well-acted film, but the performances from the actors are not quite stellar.

The plot is simple and easy to follow, but the simplicity of the plot makes it predictable and less exciting. There are some side stories in this film, but most of them do not contribute anything to the general plot of the movie. Both Jack and Francis have families, but they have no significance other than giving these two men a reason to survive. Then, there is that red herring-Jack's son is suffering from a behavioral disorder-but the audience is never told what the problem really is.

"A Dark Truth" is a well-paced thriller that is nice to watch when there is time to kill. It would have been better as a made-for-TV movie because it is not spectacular enough for the big screen. It is far from being a not-to-be-missed movie, but it is still worth watching.

Rating 3 out of 5