The HBO original feature WHITE MILE cleverly marries the man-against-the-elements drama of DELIVERANCE with the unprincipled ambition of the go-go '80s as satirized in WALL STREET and GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS. Based on a true story, the central conceit plays out perfectly, as arrogant
corporate warriors are humbled by the forces of nature on a mandatory company-sponsored wilderness weekend. Only the two-part structure, which relegates the last half to courtroom drama, undercuts the tension.
Seeking to boost the morale and warrior spirit of his corporate minions, advertising honcho Dan Cotler (Alan Alda) rallies his troops for a weekend in the wild, which they will spend river-rafting down the infamous "white mile," a stretch of white water noted for its difficulty and danger.
Seeking to impress a fence-sitting client, Cotler invites retired company point man Nick Karas (Robert Loggia), ostensibly for a relaxing spell of fly-fishing. Also along as a voice of conscience is Alda's right-hand man (and Karas's former protege) Jack Robbins (Peter Gallagher). The river guide
shows up with only one large raft, into which they all manage to squeeze. Overloaded and top-heavy, the raft proves too much for even a trained professional to handle, and before long, three of their party lie dead: a new hire who had openly expressed reservations, a twinkly old-schooler (Jack
Gilpin), and Karas. By the time rescue efforts are under way, a raving Cotler, obviously deep in shock, is impotently trying to take charge.
Back at company HQ, Cotler works overtime to rally morale and hold his disintegrating company together. He comforts the new employee's widow, even as he hands over the paltry $2,000 death and disability check required of him. Promising Robbins a promotion and corner office, he orders him to
dissuade Karas's feisty widow (Fionnula Flanagan) from filing a negligence suit, but she won't budge. By the time the case reaches the courtroom, Robbins has become the star witness against the company, recalling how Cotler himself bribed the river guides to crowd everyone into a single raft, in
the interest of a more intense bonding.
In WHITE MILE, the action is never far from DELIVERANCE, as these pasty-faced, potato-shaped doughboys tackle nature with their macho posturing and gung-ho speeches. Alda's unctuous villain is thrilling to watch; the almost syrupy show of empathy, just barely masking his personification of
corporate greed, is enough to set one's teeth on edge. As mid-size dramas disappear from theatrical exhibition, leaving the indies and blockbusters to duke it out among themselves, it is encouraging to see intelligent efforts like this one coming from HBO, currently the industry leader in
made-for-cable. (Violence, adult situations, profanity.)
Cast & Details See all »
- Released: 1994
- Rating: NR
- Review: The HBO original feature WHITE MILE cleverly marries the man-against-the-elements drama of DELIVERANCE with the unprincipled ambition of the go-go '80s as satirized in WALL STREET and GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS. Based on a true story, the central conceit plays ou… (more)