Beyond Borders Review
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For years, I’ve hoped for Hollywood to make a film about the unsung heroes of disaster relief and international crisis. An "action" movie that’s more about preserving human life than destroying it -- one that showcases global issues in a genuine manner rather than inadvertently trivializing them as setting and subplot, perhaps even illuminating viewers to subjects that in the American media receive only a shocking 20% of news coverage.

For a moment, I had thought Beyond Borders might be that movie -- then the opening credits rolled.

Beyond Borders follows the exploits of Sarah Jordan (Angelina Jolie), an American socialite who is emotionally drafted into a humanitarian adventure by love interest Nick Callahan (Clive Owens), an excessively self-righteous renegade doctor. Together this less-than-dynamic duo goes from one international hot-spot to another: civil war, famine, and disease in Ethiopia; amputees, refugees, and Apocalypse Now references in Cambodia; rebels, crime lords, and snow-swept landscapes in Chechnya. At each locale, the couple falls deeper in love, and the audience cares far less.

It was this script that supposedly jarred Jolie into becoming a United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. And after playing globe-hopping, digitally-enhanced hottie Lara Croft in the Tomb Raider series, she viewed this film as her chance to give fans a little substance. She failed. The romantic relationship is stale, cliché, and devoid of chemistry from its first on-screen moments. Worse yet are those aspects that should provide substance -- the disaster relief portions are campy, artificial, and at times outright insulting. Each hot-spot is a showcase of international crisis with no regard for individual culture or, for that matter, the individual people featured. When these characters discuss their tragedies, they sound as though they’re reading PR blurbs from relief agencies -- and this is what passes as dialogue. Furthermore, Dr. Callahan's brand of relief work involves gun-running, a complete disregard for the Hippocratic Oath, and a license to kill when necessary.

Beyond Borders in no way gives a positive or realistic portrayal of international relief work -- at its best, it is boring, sanctimonious, sentimental garbage; at its worst, it’s offensively negligent slop.

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