Gerald Wright's Movie Coverage
BATTLE IN SEATTLE
Directed by: Stuart Townsend
Running time: 1 hr. 39 mins.
Release date: September 19, 2008 (limited)
Genre: Drama and Politics, Action/Adventure and Religion
Distributor: Redwood Palms Pictures & THINKFilm
MPAA Rating: R
From November 29 to December 3, 1999, civil disorder plagued Seattle, Washington as the World Trade Organization (WTO) held its conference. WTO protesters campaigned for causes ranging from environmental issues to animal rights. Protests occurred each day by consumer advocates, labor unions, students, anarchists and pacifists- some became violent. Over 500 people were arrested. While there were no deaths, 89 people were hospitalized for injuries. On November 29, 2008, Mayor Paul Schell declared a state of emergency, resulting in a police action to enforce a limited curfew in part of downtown Seattle and mobilizing Washington State National Guard to keep the peace. The unrest delayed the WTO meeting by over 5 hours.
The substance of the movie focuses on Ray Liotta, who brilliantly portrays Jim Tobin. Tobin is worried that a high profile, visible police presence in the city will provoke demonstrators. However, the police state he orders is the basis of the story. The day by day violence and riots add to the action of this gripping film. Woody Harrelson portrays a "by the book" cop named Dale whose wife Ella is pregnant. Ella falls victim to the police brutality that her husband and rookie partner Johnson (Channing Tatum) are involved with. The tension escalates when militant protesters join in, arrests are made and people are injured.
In this fictionalized version of true events surrounding the demonstrations, the story focuses around four main characters (two men and two women). Django (Andre Benjamin aka Andre 500 of OutKast), Jay (Martin Henderson, an Aussie actor from The Ring), Sam (Jennifer Carpenter of Dexter) and Lou (Michelle Rodriguez from Girlfight). Andre Benjamin gives an inspiring portrayal of a philosophical protester and Jennifer Carpenter gives a passive performance of an idealistic woman. Martin Henderson and Michelle Rodriguez are cast as lovers in this movie. I find this casting fascinating because Michelle Rodriguez has been type-cast as a tough girl in the majority of her films. In this movie, Rodriguez rises to the part of portraying a totally different type of character with sweetness and tenderness.
The film gives a touching and often gritty daily chronicle of the unrest in Seattle in 1999 and includes engaging personal stories. However, the last 30 minutes turns this movie sour with sappy and unrealistic scenes. I'm unable to spoil the finale, but lets just say that it is a shame to sabotage a good thing.
FILM RATING (C+)