Monday, October 03, 2005

Puerto Vallarta Squeeze (2003)

A Film Review

Copyright Dragan Antulov 2005

If there is one thing that will doom Hollywood it is the increase of cliches, formulas and predictability that plague today's films, especially those made by big studios. Those made with lesser budgets are somewhat more immune to this plague, but when cliches happen, the result is not pretty. One of such examples is the ending of PUERTO VALLARTA SQUEEZE, 2003 drama directed by Arthur Allan Seidelman.

The plot, based on the novel by Robert James Waller, begins in Mexican city of Puerto Vallarta in 1990. Washed-up American writer Danny Pastor (played by Craig Wasson) and his Mexican girlfriend Maria de la Luz Santos (played by Giovanna Zacarias) are witnessing the double assassination on the street. Few hours later they are approached by Clayton Price (played by Scott Glen), another American who claims to be stranded and offers substantial amount of money for discreet ride northwards, towards US border. Pastor and Luz, in desperate need of money, agree, not knowing that the Price is a former Vietnam veteran and CIA-trained assassin responsible for murders. His act has caused massive manhunt by Mexican authorities, and the efforts to apprehend him are joined by two CIA agents - older Walter McGrane (played by Harvey Keitel) and younger Weatherford (played by Jonathan Brandis). While all this is going on, trio travels to north and Luz begins to develop feelings for mysterious stranger.

In the beginning, PUERTO VALLARTA SQUEEZE looks very refreshing. The exotic locations of Mexico are well-matched by unconventional characters and bizarre love traingle. The plot is good opportunity to spot some tragically underused talents like Craig Wasson. For Scott Glen, specialised for supporting roles of tough guys, this film was a rare occasion to play romantic lead. Because of that, the audience are lulled into not expecting cliches and when they start appearing, film starts to rapidly deteriorate. Harvey Keitel gives another routine performance, while Jonathan Brandis - actor who took his life shortly after the premiere - is almost forgettable. The ending of the film - that significantly strays from the novel - is especially disappointing, because it predictably sacrifices plausibility to Hollywood conventions. Seidelman, director with long television career, makes this film watchable, but the experience contains too many "deja vus" to be recommended.

RATING: 4/10 (+)


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I liked it. It didn't end like the book, Not sure which had the better ending, didn't like how the movie got to its end.
Watch it, read the book, enjoy.


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