DVD Review
Beyond Borders
Beyond Borders poster
By Stephen Lucas     Published April 20, 2004
US Release: October 24, 2003

Directed by: Martin Campbell
Starring: Angelina Jolie , Clive Owen , Linus Roache , Teri Polo

Running Time: 127 minutes
Domestic Box Office: $4,426,000
This could have been a good film if it weren?t for gashes in its plot.
The tagline on the DVD cover of ?Beyond Borders? is as follows: ?In a place she didn?t know, among people she never knew, she found a way to make a difference.? Angelina Jolie stars in the film as that character; her name is Sarah, a woman who finds her calling in life by helping world relief programs. She looks gorgeous from the day she arrives in desolate locations and constantly vies for the audience?s support. ?Beyond Borders? is not necessarily by the numbers or very clich? with an unusual and somewhat refreshing premise; however, its potential is wasted on cheap, Hollywood contrivances that infect what could have been a rather decent film.

?Borders? is a conflicted movie: on one hand, it tries to send a message about devastating hunger problems while also thrusting Jolie and co-star Clive Owen (playing another relief worker) into an all-too-sudden romance. To add to that, awkward shifting between drama, romance, and thriller elements make for an appallingly uneven final act.

I started out watching the film with little problem because I could forgive some of the blemishes (stiff dialogue, odd characterization) that grazed most of the film. What kept my attention were the humanistic aspects, though most were kind of scattered between various subplots. I cared for the people whom the workers were trying to help and if more attention had been paid to that portion of the film, maybe my opinion of ?Beyond Borders? wouldn?t be quite so indifferent.

Jolie has always been a talented actress in my eyes, but like what many have said, she just stars in bad movies. Even ?Girl, Interrupted,? the film which won her a Best Supporting Actress Oscar, isn?t that great of a film. I recently saw another film of hers in theaters named ?Taking Lives.? I enjoyed it for the most part, but it?s fair to say the role she had wasn?t all too demanding. ?Borders? is actually a more challenging part, I believe, since it involves several things; she plays a wife, mother, lover, friend, and ? oh, yeah ? a sympathetic humanitarian.

Perhaps it isn?t her fault that the film is lacking, but I can?t say that I was altogether involved with her performance. It?s known that Jolie works in similar environments in real life as an overseas ambassador. Making this film must have been a personal experience for her, set in such a familiar atmosphere, but it?s really too bad ?Borders? doesn?t have more to say. This could have been a good film if it weren?t for gashes in its plot, caused by poor scripting.

Jolie?s chemistry with Owen works onscreen, but is their relationship really necessary? Even his character says that it?s hard to feel seeing such devastation every day, yet he finds the ?strength? to love somebody? (This, coming from someone who never gets close to anybody, of course.) I understand there will be sexual tension between people, but the romance in ?Beyond Borders? culminates in a sex scene amidst turmoil.

In lieu of that, Sarah doesn?t really make that much of a difference, even though the tagline claims she does. Although she aids a little boy to health and brings with her a few days of food supply, she doesn?t do much besides observing what occurs. The thing that bothered me about her role is that she claims to care so much about the issue yet doesn?t really accomplish much; then, in the final act, it?s all put to the side to showcase a very contrived plot turn.

Like many mediocre (or less-than-mediocre) movies, ?Beyond Borders? merely suffers from a lack of good execution. What could have been an interesting premise for a film is sacrificed for something so much more artificial than world hunger. Another thing that graces the DVD cover of this movie is a quote claiming that ?Borders? is ?a daringly original film.? Even though this comes from Wireless Magazine critic Earl Dittman (best known for his praise of panned films like ?Serving Sara?), it?s fair to say there?s a shred of truth in that statement. ?Beyond Borders? is not your most typical love story, but it is not a good one, either.
Stephen's Grade: C
Stephen's Overall Grading: 23 graded movies
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