Panic stricken, Alice immediately turns to Peter's corporation to help and they send in Terry Thorne (Russell Crowe), an ex-soldier turned kidnap & ransom negotiator for a global firm that collects a commission for rescued hostages. Terry immediately takes charge of the situation and gives Alice hope that her husband will soon return to her. However, Terry has barely started working on the case when he is pulled. Turns out Peter's company was trying to cut costs so they cut the hostage insurance. With no means to pay Terry's exorbitant fee, Alice is left on her own. Burned out and disillusioned, Terry just wants a well-deserved break, but he cannot leave Alice to fight for her husband on her own, so he returns and takes the case for nothing.
Terry's hopes for a quick resolution are now gone because he doesn't have a corporation's money to rely upon. Instead, he has to rely on whatever cash Alice and Peter's family can raise and deal with the kidnappers on his own. As Alice and Terry struggle to come up with a plan to get Peter back safely, Peter is fighting just to stay alive. He is forced to hike over barren vistas and eventually ends up in a small encampment where other wealthy hostages are kept awaiting their paid ransoms. As the weeks stretch into months, Peter almost gives up hope of ever being rescued, his worn picture of Alice his only lifeline. Back in the city, Alice is desperately trying to fight her attraction to Terry and feeling guilty about it, especially with Peter's life on the line...
Proof of Life was an enjoyable film, but emotionally lacking. It was the premise of the movie that drew me in, the idea that there are still groups of people out there in third world countries who rely on kidnapping wealthy foreigners to make a living is just astonishing. I was a bit disappointed that there was not more background information and such included in the film as I think that would have made it more interesting. The actors did a fine job, for the most part, but I felt that there was no emotional connection between any of them. Russell Crowe was superb in his role as a kidnap & ransom negotiator and I totally bought him as an ex-soldier. He was definitely calm under pressure and I could even understand why he would not let himself get involved with Alice, even though he clearly wanted to. As another reviewer mentioned, there are lots of little details surrounding Crowe (his use of guns & knives) that made him seem like the real deal, even though he isn't. I didn't find myself feeling a whole heck of a lot for Meg Ryan or David Morse. Meg Ryan was just kind of empty for me. She was there, she took up space and was breathing, but I didn't ever connect with her character and the whole love triangle thing was hinging on her and she just didn't pull it through so I never really bought it. David Morse I flat out disliked at the beginning and, though I grew to like him more as the film progressed, I never really liked him all that much. It would have been better if director Taylor Hackford had gone in the action-adventure direction instead of a character-driven direction because these actors just weren't able to pull it off. Still, this movie has some stunning vistas of Ecuador and a few interesting moments with a great rescue scene at the end. Rent it at a time when nothing new has come out just so you can say that you've seen it...
In addition to excellent performances (espeically from Crowe and the supporting actors playing Dino and Peter - sorry, I can't remember their names at the moment) the action sequences are superb, and the insight into the relatively unheard of K&R business is unique. You don't find this information in any other films.
I've heard Proof of Life referred to as "the thinking man's action movie" and I'd have to agree. It does make you think. It has subtlety down to an art form and uses subtext as a key to unlocking the relationship between Terry and Alice.
On a side note, the DVD has a really interesting director's commentary. I am generally not a fan of direcor's commentary, but this one is very insightful and gives more information on K&R and the background of the story than could ever be put in a movie. In my opinion, the Director's Commentary is one of the highlights of the DVD.