Drawn from recent conflicts between Puerto Rican independistas and Americans who are intent on statehood for the island colony, Paramount's A SHOW OF FORCE makes a radical-chic botch of a potentially interesting dramatic situation. Jesus Fuentes (Lou Diamond Phillips), an undercover cop
working for renegade FBI agent Frank Curtin (Kevin Spacey), sets student activists up for a fall by prompting a strike on a TV tower. Curtin's intent is to fabricate evidence of an attempted terrorist bombing, but in the course of the arrests, Curtin murders the students and intimidates into
silence the taxi driver who witnesses the killings. Amy Irving plays Kate Melendez, the semi-competent gringa TV journalist who investigates the murders and subsequent cover-up; she persists in trying to unravel the various accounts of the incident although her boss (Robert Duvall) insists that
the FBI's version is the only version. Meanwhile, further intimidation comes from the incumbent governor's re-election campaign committee. Eventually, on the strength of the taxi driver's testimony, Senate hearings are convened, with the prosecution headed by Luis Angel Mora (Andy Garcia, hidden
under a full beard in his extended cameo). Ultimately, Mora uses a hidden camera to capture Curtin admitting that he is behind the entire violent episode.
Extremely choppy and contrived, this try at a Caribbean Z winds up a near-total failure. While cinematographer James Glennon's saturated browns and greens are gorgeous, the overall effect of the visuals is akin to watching a deck of postcards being shuffled--stagy, set-bound conversations
alternated with the picturesque squalor of slums, bars, and cockfights. Moreover, the characterization is dopey throughout. Irving's Kate Melendez is frequently lauded for her reporting skills, yet she continually misses pertinent details. Her videotaped report from the murder site may contain a
major clue, but it has to be pointed out to her. Kate's response? "Gee! I hadn't noticed." That the clue even made it onto the tape is something of a miracle, since Kate's inept camera crew invariably points the camera in the wrong direction, shooting useless cover footage while neglecting
The Nancy Drew-like tone that Irving brings to the proceedings persists in the portrayals and stilted banter of other characters: "Hey!" Diamond Phillips announces to the startled cab driver, "We're revolutionaries!" Bruno Barreto, best known as a director of softcore art movies like DONA FLOR AND
HER TWO HUSBANDS, makes a mess of this film on almost every level, though his cameras are most certainly in focus for his leering shots of Irving's deeply tanned body. Even the romantic rumble of Georges Delerue's music isn't up to his excellent work in SALVADOR, but it's a fine try.
The crowning touch of this goofy melodrama is the astounding disclaimer that follows the final shot: while much of the story is based on fact, we're told, some characters, particularly the renegade FBI agent, are invented. In other words, it's all true except for the story. Condescending and
lackluster, A SHOW OF FORCE is almost instantly forgettable. (Violence, adult situations, profanity.)
Cast & Details See all »
- Released: 1990
- Rating: R
- Review: Drawn from recent conflicts between Puerto Rican independistas and Americans who are intent on statehood for the island colony, Paramount's A SHOW OF FORCE makes a radical-chic botch of a potentially interesting dramatic situation. Jesus Fuentes (Lou Diamo… (more)