Wolfgang Peterson’s star-studded thriller proves yet another mainstream success for 1990’s cinema as Dustin Hoffman’s USAMRID Colonel attempts to stay ahead of a lethal virus which is laying waste to a small California town. With former wife and CDC big-wig (Rene Russo) in tow alongside his own team (an Oscar-laden Kevin Spacey and Cuba Gooding Jr.), they go about town disobeying orders from their shadowy superiors, breaking quarantine, and any number of other drastic measures in the hope of manufacturing an antibody before Donald Sutherland’s nasty General destroys the whole town – simply to keep the virus for his own biological weapons programme! It’s a sweeping popcorn movie expertly crafted to draw every bit of tension out of an old plot and infused with all manner of personality, chemistry, and light humour by that glittering cast. Hoffman, in particular, seems to be enjoying himself no end while Russo shows yet again that she can not only hold her own next to any A-Lister in the business but enhance both of their performances with that endearing rapport she seems to so easily generate. Sutherland is the straight bad guy but Morgan Freeman gets his teeth into an altogether more textured role as the General who discovers that duty and honour make for poor bedfellows. Throw in a couple of cracking helicopter chases and a last minute dash to stop the town’s imminent destruction and you’ve got a decent night in front of the box.
Rating: The Good – 76.1 Genre: Drama, Comedy Duration: 139 mins Director: Cameron Crowe Stars: Tom Cruise, Cuba Gooding Jr., Renée Zellweger
Cameron Crowe’s finely pitched romantic comedy has all the hallmarks of the best romantic drama with a healthy dollop of cynicism to keep it honest. Tom Cruise is the sports agent who, after a late night epiphany, turns his back on his once ruthless, heartless, and client churning approach to his career and commits himself to a more personal form of sporting representation. The only problem is the line of colleagues waiting to plunge their knives into his back and his soon to be former clients who’ve been well indoctrinated into the industry’s superficiality. Left with nobody but an enamoured secretary at his former company (Renée Zellwegger) and an embittered but charismatic football player desperate for the contract he feels he deserves (Cuba Gooding Jr.), he strives to build a new business while reconciling the feelings he develops for former and maintaining his turbulent relationship with the latter.
Nearly 20 years after its release, Jerry Maguire remains as fresh and endearing as it was in the 90’s as Crowe approaches things with an energy and fun that gets the best out of his cast and acerbic script alike. The riffs resonate amusingly, the dialogue pops, and the very real personal drama bubbles just under the comedic surface so that the movie avoids succumbing to the palpable angst of Cruise’s central dilemma. Only once or twice does it threaten to do so but Cameron and his cast always pull it back. Cruise has rarely been better morphing seamlessly from the confident, shark-toothed grin of successful agent to the sweaty self doubt of a man struggling to find himself. Zellwegger charms the audience with her rather original portrayal of the needy but admirable single mother while Gooding Jr., in his Oscar winning turn, is simply a force of nature. There’s a vulnerable defiance to his all encompassing presence which makes him much more than just a football jock looking for a contract and it’s around him that much of the film derives its energy. Whether or not the whole thing becomes too thick with sentiment will come down to one’s tolerance of light hearted emotional drama but there’s enough truth and real life sprinkled about the script and its delivery to capture most of us without a fight.