Hostage Heat: Love, Guns and Ammo

By Ansen, David | Newsweek, December 11, 2000 | Go to article overview

Hostage Heat: Love, Guns and Ammo


Ansen, David, Newsweek


Taylor Hackford's thriller "Proof of Life" leaves a lot to be desired, but it's got its hands on a fascinating subject. Inspired by a Vanity Fair article by William Prochnau and a book by former hostage victim Thomas R. Hargrove, it gives us a peek into the world of K&R (kidnap and ransom). As organized kidnapping has become a big business, it has given rise to K&R insurance policies, routinely taken out by multinational corporations on behalf of their endangered employees. The insurance companies in turn employ profession- al negotiators--many of whom are former CIA, FBI or Interpol agents--to bargain for the lives of the hostages spirited off by mercenary rebel forces.

That's the job of London-based Aussie Terry Thorne (Russell Crowe), a former soldier with a calm, cool bedside manner. In "Proof of Life" Thorne finds himself holding the hand of Alice Bowman (Meg Ryan), whose engineer husband, Peter (David Morse), has been abducted by drug-running guerrillas in the fictitious South American country of Tecala. Making matters worse for Peter, his failing company has canceled its insurance policy. Thorne, who prides himself on his strictly-business professionalism, at first turns his back on the job, but we know better. We also know, this being a Hollywood movie, that his emotional detachment will be compromised by his growing attachment to his attractive client. …

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