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Eminent Domain Reviews

Politically correct and cinematically bland, the peremptory EMINENT DOMAIN just goes through the motions. This bankrupt expose of Big Brotherism, commie-style, commits the cardinal sin of being dull. Smugly satisfied with his life, Jozef Burski (Donald Sutherland) has a high-ranking job, a lovely wife, Mira (Anne Archer), and a beautiful but slow-witted daughter Ewa (Johdi May). Then, overnight, as in a scene from a Kafka novel, Burski's job is eliminated. Ben (Paul Freeman), his one loyal friend, risks his life to obtain information and learns that Burski's apartment is bugged. Suddenly, old cronies ignore Jozef, and his child is shipped back home without his consent. As the war of nerves continues, marital tensions escalate, and Ewa is run over by a car. Distraught, Mira breaks free of her husband's control and commits herself to a state asylum. Then everything returns to normal--incredibly, Burski's exile has just been a test imposed by party leader Comrade Slowak (Bernard Hepton), who wanted to measure the extent of Burski's devotion to his country. At first relieved, Burski must come to terms with what this test has done to his family. When Ben is arrested for the illegal aid he gave Burski during his temporary disfavor, Burski plans to double-cross his leaders. As pedestrian as Andrzej Krakowski and Richard Greggson's screenplay is, a director with some sense of style might have squeezed suspense out of Jozef's growing paranoia. Even an action specialist might have aggressively nudged this anti-dictatorship horror show along to its conclusion without giving viewers so much time to nap in between Jozef's wanderings. But once the film's set-up is in place and his plight is underlined, the nightmarish plot grinds to a halt.