Directed by Frank E. Flowers. Starring Bill Paxton, Orlando Bloom, Stephen Dillane, Zoe Saldana, Agnes Bruckner, Victor Rasuk, Anthony Mackie, Bobby Cannavale. (2006, R, 115 min.)
REVIEWED By Toddy Burton, Fri., Sept. 15, 2006
Completely forgettable in nearly every way, Haven follows the stories of several strangers who cross paths during one fateful night on the heavenly shores of the Cayman Islands. Taking its visual cues from Traffic and Crash, the film displays little to no innovation or reason in its use of supersaturated colors and handheld camera techniques. Though brazenly derivative, the visual style is at least pretty, but the script never transcends tired melodrama. The plot, a mishmash of Pulp Fiction and (again) Traffic, with elements of (believe it or not) West Side Story, follows Carl (Paxton), a shady businessman who flees Miami with his precocious 18-year-old daughter, Pippa (Bruckner), in order to escape some particularly aggressive FBI agents. Arriving on the island of Grand Cayman with $1 million duct-taped to his chest, Carl attempts to track down his deceitful attorney (Dillane) while his daughter wanders off with a goofy local party boy (Rasuk). At this point the film inexplicably abandons these characters, in whom I wasn't really feeling much investment anyway, and introduces the lowly boatman Shy (Bloom) and his one true love, Andrea (Saldana), the wealthy daughter of a local magnate. The two star-crossed lovers coo and whine about their mutual infatuation until Andrea's brother (Mackie), otherwise known as the obsessive character without any motivation, brutally attacks the unsuspecting Shy. The young lovers' lives are thus thrown into (gulp) more drama and turmoil. Ultimately, everyone more or less collides on the same night at the same party where Shy confronts Andrea's brother while Carl manages to avenge his jackass lawyer, ensure his daughter's financial future, and protect his stolen money, all before getting taken away by the men in the black SUVs. The result is a film that feels like an exercise in futility. The characters are mostly annoying, and the convoluted plot jumps around with countless unmotivated flashbacks and -forwards. Lacking purpose or thoughtful complexity, Flowers' film is an overly ambitious mess.