(Peter Antonijevic, USA, 1998)


This unpleasant film presuming to dramatise recent events in war-torn Serbia is a gruesome mixture of pious European art cinema, overwrought American melodrama and pure exploitation.

It is hard to tell who is the most blameworthy – director Peter Antonijevic, writer Robert Orr or executive producer Oliver Stone.

Its opening gambit has a tabloid touch almost worthy of Samuel Fuller. After Joshua (Dennis Quaid) sees his wife (Natassja Kinski) die in a terrorist bombing, he lunges into a nearby mosque and shoots everyone in sight. Dominic (Stellan Skarsgard) thinks it best to whisk this insane killer into the Foreign Legion – and from there, to the battlefields of Serbia.

Moral redemption seems an unlikely prospect for this grim, cold-hearted mercenary, but Savior huffs and puffs its way towards a bogus resolution.

The filmmakers seem to think that repeated close-ups of a pregnant woman (Natasa Ninkovic) and, eventually, her gurgling baby will clinch the banal message that life, love and hope spring eternal.

In the meantime, we are treated to the usual parade of violent atrocities (beatings, shootings, betrayals), all in the name of convincing us that War is Hell and that Nobody Wins – the usual platitudes dished out by second-rate storytellers who obviously get off on the spectacle of war but are squeamish about admitting it.

Savior sat on the distributor's shelf in Australia for a while. It is a mindless, pathetic effort that deserves to die a quick death in the far-away corners of large video shops.

© Adrian Martin December 1999

Film Critic: Adrian Martin
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