Men With Guns

  • 1998
  • Movie
  • R
  • Adventure, Drama, Political

Filmed almost entirely in Spanish and the native languages of Latin America, John Sayles' film is an interesting but essentially flawed attempt to come to terms with the nightmare of life in the region's remote areas. In the capital city of an unnamed country, Dr. Fuentes (Frederico Luppi), an ailing, elderly physician, sets out to visit those former students...read more

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Reviewed by Ken Fox
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Filmed almost entirely in Spanish and the native languages of Latin America, John Sayles' film is an interesting but essentially flawed attempt to come to terms with the nightmare of life in the region's remote areas. In the capital city of an

unnamed country, Dr. Fuentes (Frederico Luppi), an ailing, elderly physician, sets out to visit those former students who took part in "the program" -- a government-funded health project designed to train young doctors to live and work in the country's impoverished mountain villages. But it's

clear at the outset that something has gone terribly wrong: Fuentes learns that the doctor sent to live among the sugarcane farmers in the town of Rio Seco was doused with gasoline and burned alive. The murderers? Men with guns, probably guerrillas. In the next village, Fuentes is told that their

doctor was taken away by army soldiers and slaughtered along with other "enemy" villagers. And it's the same story at each stop along the doctor's desperate journey into his country's heart of darkness: The idealistic program that was to have improved the lives of indigent farmers resulted in

genocide. Sayles, an intelligent and fiercely independent filmmaker, fills his film with intriguing ideas: Progress is not in everyone's best interest, not even the government's; intervention can and will result in the eventual destruction of a culture; and whatever you think divides people into

opposing groups, it all boils down to who's holding the gun -- government soldier, Contra guerrilla -- it makes little difference in the end. But what Sayles gains through careful thought and methodical exposition, he loses in dramatic impact. The film is schematic to a fault, and its rigid,

repetitive structure dulls the very sense of horror that should have left his audience devastated, rather than simply numb.

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  • Released: 1998
  • Rating: R
  • Review: Filmed almost entirely in Spanish and the native languages of Latin America, John Sayles' film is an interesting but essentially flawed attempt to come to terms with the nightmare of life in the region's remote areas. In the capital city of an unnamed cou… (more)

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