Whole Lot of Nothing 

A ridiculous ending destroys all the momentum of 'The Interpreter'

The Interpreter has a great pedigree, and with that, it has great expectations. Nicole Kidman, Sean Penn and director Sydney Pollack line up for a political thriller that must be something fantastic to attract this sort of talent.

It sure does look that way for awhile as the story of a United Nations interpreter (Kidman) who hears some assassination talk inside her sound booth unfolds. It really does seem as if it's working up to something, and something big.

Then, with the lamest of the lame endings, the sucker goes thud.

The lameness of the ending doesn't really hit you until the ride home. It's one of those "movie" endings that could never, ever happen, tacked on to a film that was reasonably credible up to that point. I won't give it away here, but take my word for it. It's stupid, and it owes a lot to Quentin Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs.

On the positive side, the film does feature Kidman and Penn doing fine work. Penn plays federal agent Tobin Keller, a sufferer of recent tragedy who must clear his head and do his best to make sure nobody gets shot while giving a speech at the U.N. Keller doesn't buy the story of one Silvia Broome (Kidman), who thinks she has heard an assassination plot in her headphones after hours at her job. He thinks she has secrets, and as the movie unfolds, we find out she does.

Is she really an assassin? Is she just a pawn in an assassination plot? It doesn't matter, because the ending is just a big cheat.

While I'm complaining, let me just say that I hate these movies that make up fake countries so as to not politically commit themselves. This time out, Kidman is a native of a fake place in Africa called Matobo, which might be a thinly masked Rwanda (protesters of Matobo's leaders scream about genocide). Why not pick a real nation and a fictional leader? They do it with the United States all of the time. Cowards!

The film does have some historical significance. Pollack actually got permission to shoot inside the real U.N. Building, which he did on the weekends. That's all well and good, but it's not like we haven't seen the inside of that building before, so big deal.

Pollack does manage to uncork a couple of good scenes, including a terrorist act on public transportation that definitely raises hairs. In fact, Pollack does a good job of tricking the viewer into thinking they are watching a film of substance until its final act. The movie looks good, and some tension does build up, which makes it far from an agonizing experience.

Kidman is strong, if perhaps a little miscast, in the title role. Her character has a mysterious African revolutionary past, and she just doesn't look like a mysterious African revolutionary. She looks like a Chanel spokesmodel. Penn brings his usual great self to the role of a man who has had it up to here with people trying to pull the wool over his eyes. Things get a bit strange when their characters get a little closer, but Pollack keeps things from going overboard.

A whole lot of intrigue and a whole lot of decent acting add up to a whole lot of nothing. The Internet Movie Database reports that Nicole Kidman signed on for this project without reading a script, and that doesn't seem surprising at all in retrospect. The Interpreter looked like it had the makings of the year's first great film, but it winds up being just another big-ticket movie with no place to go.

The Interpreter
Rated NR

More by Bob Grimm

  • Shark Weak

    Someone should have deep-sixed The Meg
    • Aug 16, 2018
  • Honor Roll

    Elsie Fisher and Josh Hamilton shine in Eighth Grade
    • Aug 9, 2018
  • Mission Accomplished

    Tom Cruise once again delivers a stunt-filled, pulse-pounding extravaganza like no other
    • Aug 2, 2018
  • More »


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Readers also liked…

  • Girl Power

    It takes an Amazon to rescue DC Comic’s lackluster movie universe
    • Jun 8, 2017
  • Ghosts of Christmas

    Charles Dickens wrestles with the spirits of the season
    • Nov 30, 2017

The Range

Three Great Things to Do in Tucson Today: Tuesday, Aug. 21

Three Great Things to Do in Tucson Today: Monday, Aug. 20

18 Great Things to Do in Tucson This Weekend: August 17-19

More »

Latest in Cinema Feature

  • Shark Weak

    Someone should have deep-sixed The Meg
    • Aug 16, 2018
  • Reel Indie

    Movies to see at local indie theaters this week.
    • Aug 16, 2018
  • More »

Facebook Activity

© 2018 Tucson Weekly | 7225 Mona Lisa Rd. Ste. 125, Tucson AZ 85741 | (520) 797-4384 | Powered by Foundation