In this sober cautionary tale masquerading as an action movie, resolutely ethical FBI agent Anthony Hubbard (Denzel Washington) finds himself at ground zero of an international disaster area. A New York City bus is blown up by Islamic suicide
bombers, and further violence is threatened unless one Sheik Ahmed Bin Talal (Ahmed Ben Larby) -- whom the government won't even admit it's holding -- is released. Hubbard's investigation attracts CIA case officer Elise Kraft (Annette Bening), who clearly knows more than she's sharing but has
potentially useful connections to the Islamic underground in Brooklyn. Unfortunately, they're not good enough to prevent the bombing of a gala theater event, which incites public clamor for military intervention. Next thing you know, U.S. troops under the command of consummate company man Gen.
Devereaux (Bruce Willis) are securing the Brooklyn Bridge, and Arab-Americans -- including the teenage son of Hubbard's partner, Frank Haddad (Tony Shaloub) -- are being herded into makeshift detention centers. Clearly, director and cowriter Edward Zwick isn't interested in the cool accoutrements
of high-tech espionage or the adrenaline-pumping spectacle of blowing things up. He's interested in how quickly frightened people will compromise their constitutional rights in the interests of safety, and the way the constant threat of random violence translates into the poisonous need to hate
someone -- just about anyone (none of which has saved him from accusations of demonizing the Arab-American community). Unfortunately, Zwick frequently sacrifices dramatic urgency in the name of sobriety. That makes the inevitable high-voltage showdown between Hubbard and Devereaux -- who, having
been established as a pragmatic, if occasionally brutal military functionary, suddenly pulls a Captain Queeg -- seem even more preposterously formulaic than it might in a less conspicuously unsensational movie.
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- Released: 1998
- Rating: R
- Review: In this sober cautionary tale masquerading as an action movie, resolutely ethical FBI agent Anthony Hubbard (Denzel Washington) finds himself at ground zero of an international disaster area. A New York City bus is blown up by Islamic suicide bombers, and… (more)