Genres: Drama, Romance, Thriller and Crime/Gangster
Running Time: 1 hr. 52 min.
Directed by: Peter Weir
JJ Rating: B+
Young Amish boy named Samuel (Lukas Haas) sees a murder and becomes an important eyewitness that John (Harrison Ford), a detective, needs to solve the crime. When things become complicated because of several events John is forced to live with the Amish. He has a difficult time adjusting, but right when he does he is found by those that want to silence him and the little boy. Witness.
I really did not know what to expect with this movie. I thought it would be worth a viewing because I heard about it through a family member and recently heard the TV talk about it. The idea is kind of weird, something that wouldn’t normally peek anyone’s interest. That just goes to show if you do something well then no matter how boring it may sound it has the ability to be intensely interesting.
The chemistry between Kelly McGillis, who played Rachel Lapp the mother of Samuel, and Harrison Ford was impassioned. The good thing that Peter Weir (the director) did was have several scenes that were more about looks between actors than lines. I believe that that is one of the key elements to a movie. In books you have to do a lot of telling and in order to make a movie stand out as different there has to be more physical appeal; such as looks. Witness does have a lot of those moments where the actors just look at one another and a silent conversation is occurring. This is one of the reasons I really loved the end of Brokeback Mountain because of the silent conversations that were going on. It’s astounding what gestures and facial expressions can do more so than words.
There is a scene where McGillis is ‘bathing’ and she happens to leave the door cracked so that Ford can peer in. The silent conversation between those two had such raw intensity that it radiated. Haas has several of those moments throughout the movie. He has one while he’s viewing the murder. That scene is a thrilling moment. I sat there and wondered what it was he was going to do and when he started his silent plan I was slightly baffled because that’s not what I would do. But when it was all said and done I’d be lying if I didn’t say my heart was beating with excitement.
I also enjoyed how the Amish side of the story was handled. It wasn’t mishandled. There is a scene where these young townspeople pick on the Amish. The Amish have this non-violent mentality so they can get picked on without retaliation, which, seemingly, attracts bullies. Well their rules and laws do not hinder Ford from reacting. It’s a good scene.
I was tickled (I know funny word) to see Viggo Mortensen in a small role in this film. When I first saw him he was sitting at the table and did not speak a word; yet. And I pointed to the screen and said, “That’s Viggo Mortensen, whoa.” That’s what happens when you see movies from the past you see famous faces of now. Rent Mississippi Burning and you’ll see what I mean. That movie has tons of ‘now’ famous people. There’s not a lot to state about Mortensen because he was so minor he didn’t have enough time to be more than that.
My reason for not giving it a higher grade is because of the villains. Danny Glover is one of those villains and he doesn’t really have a major role in it. I just didn’t like how hollow their motivation was, though the battle at the end of the movie when they invade the Amish with guns it was enthralling. The corn silo has a nice little part in defeating one of those mean, mean men. I just wish there was more to them than they were just bad people.
One of the other villains was Josef Sommer (he played Deputy Commissioner Schaeffer) had me going oooh ooh that’s him! Him being the President of the United States in X-Men: The Last Stand. I’m glad to be able to point that out. He looked so young I sort of doubted myself.
Witness is a good movie. If you are into the genre of thriller with a bit of romance then you won’t be disappointed. It has a balance that makes the entire movie appealing and enjoyable aside from the subject matter that tends to make it seem as if it would be boring. It is a film I won’t own but will vouch for it and say that it’s silently hypnotic.