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USA 1997
Directed by
Wim Wenders
122 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
1.5 stars

The End Of Violence

Like the Nouvelle Vague directors before him, Wim Wenders is fascinated by American culture but this attempt to merge his native European intellectualism with the Hollywood thriller is a mis-alliance. Wenders’ characteristic critical observations of post-industrial society, the human/technological interface and the Hollywood film industry (not to mention the gratuitous inclusion of one of his favourite directors, Sam Fuller) sit uncomfortably with a sketchy thriller plot about government conspiracies, mysterious murders and marital infidelity.

Bill Pullman plays a hot-shot movie producer, Mike Max, who neglects his beautiful  wife (Andie MacDowell). Then one night he gets kidnapped, has a Siddartha-like epiphany and with the help of a group of Mexican immigrants, goes on a mission to discover the reason for his abduction. Meanwhile a lugubrious surveillance expert (Gabriel Byrne) spends his nights watching L.A. as part of secret project that is supposed to cut down, if not, end violent crime but which he, rightly, believes is going to turn into a Big Brother type scenario. For no apparent reason he decides to blow his whistle in Max's ear. There’s also a sub-plot involving the relationship between an actress (Traci Lind) with a small part in one of Max’s films and a detective (Loren Dean) investigating Max's disappearance that provides most of the tacked-on neo-noir stylistic features.

Wenders has little interest in the characteristic qualities of the thriller genre – suspense and action - and as he did with some degree of success in his 1971 film, The American Friend takes a more cerebral approach to his genre material but the effect is to dissipate engagement with a film whose plot unlike Coppola's 1974 film, The Conversation drifts between its various characters without any particular focus (and this despite being re-edited after an unsuccessful debut at Cannes).

There’s a comical scene involving Pruitt Taylor Vince and John Diehl as a couple of low-rent hitmen, a cast-against-type Andie McDowell looks gorgeous (although as an ill-judged  underwear scene demonstrates her principal asset is her face ) but little else. Ry Cooder delivers a typically tasteful score however anyone expecting the usual escapist pleasures of the thriller genre will be disappointed .

DVD Extras: Theatrical Trailer

Available from: Umbrella Entertainment




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