Witness

Rated R 112 minutes 2012

Plotlines don't get much phonier than this: when a ten-year-old Amish boy witnesses a murder, his testimony allows a big-city cop (Harrison Ford) to uncover a chain of corruption in the Philadelphia police department; pursued by his superiors, the cop hides out on the boy's farm, where he falls in love with his conveniently widowed mother (Kelly McGillis). Luckily Peter Weir, the standard-bearer of the Australian Tradition of Quality, is on hand to smother all the contrivances in his solemn, academic style, and the result is a moderately effective, highly affected thriller (1985). Weir, at least, has abandoned his mystical bent (apart from a few nostalgic glances at the Amish as representatives of a more pure, more noble style of lifeā€”like the aborigines who used to populate his films), and Harrison Ford suggests (for the first time) an ability to function beyond the technological support of the Lucas-Spielberg combine, his ironically worn virility turning into a distinctive manner.

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