FILM / On Cinema

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Indy Lifestyle Online
If anyone is wondering why Martin Campbell is directing the next batch of Bonds, then a visit to the sci-fi thriller No Escape is advised. Don't be put off by the so-so reviews or the fact that the film is essentially a B-movie dragged up in an A-movie budget; it's a completely bracing and fearsomely efficient piece of all-male action trash.

Tortured hero Ray Liotta hits the ground running (the gamut). He's beaten, imprisoned, pursued, wounded, left for dead, revived, shot at, assaulted, blown up and still Campbell makes time for those fleeting imaginative touches that distinguished his best British TV work (Edge of Darkness especially).

Even the obilgatory big-battle sequences contain little stories; characters face their cliched moment of decision in oddly beautiful close-ups, and we find that we've grown fond of these cartoon figures, even Stuart Wilson's hambone villain - all studs, punk leather and grunge hairstyle. Campbell's flair for death and destruction is right in your face, but he doesn't flaunt his skill with actors. He humanises stick figures, even though the genre doesn't ask for depth. Watching, you wonder why none of the reviews have noted that Liotta gives his best performance since Something Wild, despite a thankless part and the masses of foundation that have been applied to smooth his usually pitted skin.

Martin Campbell's Hollywood career has been erratic. Criminal Law was criminal and Defenceless bombed. But he has something. If he's asked nicely, he can use the camera like a gun and still seem like a gent. Given the task of salvaging 007, he's the right man at the right time with the right talent.

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