Medicine Man

1992 Directed by John Mctiernan. Starring Sean Connery, Lorraine Bracco, Jose Wilker.

REVIEWED By Louis Black, Fri., Feb. 14, 1992

Liberal Hollywood cinema is even more stunning in its ideological arrogance than right wing cinema (which is usually either reactionary or embarrassed). If it condescends to tackle a subject, that embrace is enough, it owes the viewer no depth nor serious consideration of the issue. In this plea for the rainforests, Connery is a biochemist who has lived in the jungle for six years. The research assistant he requested from his supporting foundation turns out to be a female biochemist who has been sent to investigate him. She doesn't know what to make of him. Of course he's crazy -- not only has he been in the jungle six years, he has a hidden past, but then he's also discovered the cure for cancer. Medicine Man obviously owes a lot in its conception to the Hepburn and Tracy films, by way of African Queen. In the jungle opposites meet; they tangle, they battle, they overcome obstacles together and, but I don't want to give anything away. Director McTiernan, who dazzled with the slick action of Die Hard and The Hunt for Red October, proves amazingly inept at directing women -- Bracco who was so impressive in GoodFellas, is shockingly godawful here. I blame the director rather than the actress because Bracco is completely miscued 75 percent of the time but when she connects with the scene and her character, she is powerful, even able to hold her own with Connery. And the Connery, as always, is amazing, as bad as her performance is, it doesn't mar his at all, he acts as though he is playing to Hepburn, gallantly capturing the tormented, dedicated, aggressively eccentric character(he knocks golf balls into the jungle which are fetched by Indian children whom he rewards with sugar-coated insects). Still, Bracco's consistently misfocused performance (she's hysterical, she's in control, she's hysterical, she's tough, she's hysterical) doesn't allow the film, much less their relationship, to make sense. This leaves the viewer plenty of time to concentrate on the film's story and message, to the detriment of both. Stunning rainforest vistas and shocking ravaged forest footage matched to what was probably a pretty funny script featuring one fine performance and too obvious good intentions adds up to tedium.

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Medicine Man, John Mctiernan, Sean Connery, Lorraine Bracco, Jose Wilker

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