Sunday, May 17, 2009

Medicine Man (1992) [PG-13] ***

Dr. Robert Campbell (Sean Connery) is a research biologist working deep in the Amazon rainforest, living with a Brazilian native tribe. Although he doesn’t provide progress reports to the foundation supporting him, he cryptically requests a research assistant and a gas chromatograph. To find out why, the foundation’s research director, Dr. Rae Crane (Lorraine Bracco) treks to his remote station, where Campbell claims he’s found a cure for cancer in the extract of a bromeliad plant he saw the tribe’s medicine man gathering. Unfortunately, while his first batch of extract was successful, he can’t reproduce the process, and has very little of the original batch left. And when they isolate the active ingredient using the gas chromatograph, Crane concludes that it cannot be synthesized.

Then Campbell diagnoses one of the tribal youths with a throat tumor that threatens to kill him, but if they use the last of the extract to save his life, they’ll have none left for the foundation to analyze further. Even worse, Campbell and Crane find themselves in a race against time as highway-building crews approach nearer and nearer, clearing the forest as they go, and threatening the habitat of the bromeliad, as well as the tribal village.

Sean Connery is convincing as the renegade biologist who is dealing with his own inner demons resulting from past research errors, while Lorraine Bracco is humorous as the urban research director, trying to adjust to life in the wild. The cinematography is gorgeous, the pro-environmental, anti-globalization message is clear, and the simple storyline and measured pace of the film are appropriate. However, there are a few plot holes, and the age difference between Connery and Bracco, as well as the lack of any romantic chemistry between the two, prevents this from being a really satisfying story.

Labels: adventure, romance
Internet Movie Database
Tomatometer (critics=20, viewers=46)