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A Dark Truth

2011 | 106 min | R | 2.39:1

A Dark Truth


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Theatrical release date

 04 January, 2013

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A Dark Truth Preview  

 / 10
Preview by Brian Orndorf, January 3, 2013

Released during the same period as Gus Van Sant’s “Promised Land” and its focus on the possible environmental disaster known as fracking, “A Dark Truth” also explores a little-known area of natural resource woe, covering the rise of corporations collecting control of water and land rights in struggling countries. However, instead of a respectful drama that preaches and teaches, “A Dark Truth” emerges as a political actioner, with star Andy Garcia spending his screentime wielding a handgun as his character sets out to expose evil. It’s a smart play to secure audience attention, but the effort is wasted on a dreary, formulaic picture.

After a breakout of malaria has killed the citizens of a small Ecuadorian town, revolutionary witness Francisco (Forest Whitaker) and wife Mia (Eva Longoria) have managed to escape the bloodshed of the ensuing governmental cover-up, masterminded by a Canadian water purification corporation on the verge of a billion dollar deal with South Africa. CEO Morgan (Deborah Kara Unger) is sickened by news of the violence, turning to her brother, Bruce (Kim Coates), for answers, who quickly orders a hitman (Kevin Durand) to keep a close eye on his sibling, monitoring her communications. Looking for help, Morgan contacts radio talk show host Jack (Andy Garcia), a former C.I.A. enforcer who long ago helped to imprison Francisco under false charges. Accepting the job to help dilute his guilt and revive his ailing family, Jack heads to Ecuador on mission to bring Francisco back to Canada alive and help Morgan cut out the cancerous corruption that’s turning a once purely intentioned company into a monster out to charge a fortune for a cup of water.

“A Dark Truth” might appear like a higher-minded message movie, but it actually emerges from schlock director Damian Lee (“Food of the Gods II,” “Ski School,” “Terminal Rush”), making the production difficult to take seriously. However, the subject matter is no joke, covering the growing problem of water rights, with corporations privatizing a natural resource, monetizing a basic element of life. The screenplay is earnest in its mission to impart an understanding of the violation and the relative global silence that’s greeted the issue, but this is no meditative drama hoping to covey its points emotionally. Instead, we’re treated to a gun show, with images of an Ecuadorian army mowing down its population to prevent notice from the outside world, a few suicides, and the sight of Jack in Jason Bourne mode, booking around the jungle blasting away at his enemies.

Violence dominates “A Dark Truth,” despite initial attempts to set a philosophical and spiritual tone through Jack’s radio program, where callers prod the host with questions concerning his disillusionment with government and subsequent retirement. However, conversation doesn’t sell tickets, forcing Lee to dream up a hackneyed story of corporate malevolence and possible exposure, with half the film detailing monitoring efforts around Morgan, who’s paralyzed with confusion after an Ecuadorian refugee (Devon Bostick) hopes to open her eyes to the water rights situation by shooting himself right in front of her. There’s also time spent with Bruce, who will do anything to protect the South Africa deal, calling on his security chief to silence the chaos by any means necessary, only lacking a mustache to twirl while finalizing his wicked plans. It’s a needlessly broad approach that trivializes the message, turning an opportunity to inspect a unique quandary into an episode of mediocre television.

“A Dark Truth” increases the shootouts as the story progresses, including a showdown on Canadian streets, where allegiances are tested and authorities are slow to respond. Lee doesn’t have the budget to bring the brutality to life, electing for trendy cinematography to create the illusion of intensity. The ending is also too pat for such a mammoth topic, again retreating to a screenwriting template to find closure. “A Dark Truth” is an interesting baby step toward a larger discussion of the water rights issue, but there’s not enough integrity here to savor, with all the violence and cliche drowning out the lasting message of the movie.

Starring: Andy García, Eva Longoria, Forest Whitaker, Kim Coates, Deborah Kara Unger, Kevin Durand
Director: Damian Lee

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