This one could easily serve as Exhibit B in any indictment of knee-jerk Hollywood anti-Americanism. Exhibit A would have to be a better film.
The premise concerns an autistic child who is able to sightread extremely high-order classified ciphers. He's accomplished exactly that with the National Security Agency's latest version, which he's accessed through one of the lamest plot twists imaginable. (They've placed it in a puzzle magazine to beta-test it--no, I'm not making this up.)
So great -- the NSA hires the kid and turns him loose on Chinese, French, and other unfriendly ciphers, right? No they do not. Wake up -- this is Hollywood. They send goons out to kill him, which is where Bruce Willis, playing a conflicted law-enforcement officer of uncertain antecendents, comes to the rescue. From there on it's the standard huggermugger--unnecessary hairbreadth escapes, elite assassins who turn dopey at the most convenient moment, all-but-omniscient villains who can't see the obvious trap at the climax, etc.
The acting was phoned in. Willis can do many things well, but he can't do conflicted. For some peculiar reason, the guy who fed Buscemi into the wood chipper in "Fargo" has his hair dyed black in this one. All traces of quirkiness evident in his performance for the Coens has vanished here.
The sole exception to the overall blandness is provided by the Bloviator himself, Alec Baldwin. Perhaps the film's major offense is the implication that whole scheme is being carried out in support of Iraqi agents working against Saddam. (Kind of getting a jump on Fatboy Moore here.) Baldwin repeats this contention several times during the film, very impressively, too. With conviction, you might say.
All in all, this is a film that makes "Enemy of the State" look good. A clearer recommendation I cannot provide.