Movie: The Interpreter

Our Rating: 2.50

Director Sydney Pollack has admitted to worrying that his internationally minded potboiler doesn't have enough sex and violence to succeed in today's marketplace. It would probably help if the movie had a decent-sized dollop of anything else. This promising but ultimately forgettable blip of mediocrity casts Sean Penn as a Secret Service agent assigned to the case of a U.N. interpreter (Nicole Kidman) who's overheard plans for a political assassination. The flimsiness of Kidman's stab at a British/ South African accent is hard to miss as the movie repeatedly strands her and Penn in bonding-lite dialogue scenes that accomplish little yet eat up vast amounts of screen time. Though the movie is ostensibly a thriller, its suspense is only intermittent, despite the plot's reliance on governmental security measures that are lax even by Bush administration standards. And the "relevance" of the story's human-rights motif dwindles into mere Hollywood patronization – culminating in the suggestion that the ethnic cleansing of an entire African nation is on a par with the death of one white American woman in a car crash. Nice.

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