Review by Susan Granger
1½ stars out of 4
In this instance, the whole is less than the sum of its
parts. Denzel Washington is a superb actor, an Oscar winner for
"Glory" and nominee for "Cry Freedom" and "Malcolm X," as is Annette
Bening, an Oscar winner for "The Grifters," and Bruce Willis has
proven his ability in thrillers such as "The Fifth Element" and
"Twelve Monkeys" and faced disaster in the "Die Hard" trilogy.
Director Edward Zwick has not only helmed "Courage Under Fire" and
"Glory" but he's also the co-creator of TV's "thirtysomething" and "My
So-Called Life." With credentials like these, one expects more than a
tepid political potboiler. Based on a story by Lawrence Wright, the
convoluted plot revolves around an FBI agent (Denzel Washington), a
United States Army General (Bruce Willis), and a burnt-out,
murky-minded CIA agent (Annette Bening) who team up to find an
underground cell of Islamic terrorists who are causing chaos in New
York City, blowing up a bus in Brooklyn and threatening children. In a
panic, the President imposes martial law and suspends citizens'
Constitutional rights, allowing the Army and the National Guard to
supplant local law enforcement for the duration of the operation,
thereby creating a police state. The implications deepen when all
people of Arabian descent are considered suspicious and rounded up,
like the Japanese-Americans during World War II, posing questions
like: Does one have to become monstrous to fight a monster? How far do
you go to protect freedom? While it all reads well, it doesn't play
out on the screen. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "The Siege"
is a formulaic, forgettable 4. It's not dramatic enough to deserve
merit, not suspenseful enough to attract an action-oriented audience,
and so preachy as to be almost ludicrous.
Copyright © 2000 Susan Granger