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Rising Sun
1993 - R - 125 Mins.
Director: Philip Kaufman
Producer: Peter Kaufman
Written By: Philip Kaufman
Starring: Sean Connery, Wesley Snipes, Harvey Keitel, Steve Buscemi
Review by: John Ulmer
   
There is an old Japanese motto: "Business is war." Well, that sentence is taken to new heights in the Philip Kaufman thriller "Rising Sun," based on the best-selling novel by Michael Crichton.

Wesley Snipes plays Web Smith, a Japanese-American liaison officer in LA who is called on duty after a young woman is found dead at the opening party for the new Japanese company named Nakamoto. Sean Connery plays John Connor, a retired liaison officer who is an expert on Japanese customs and culture. He is requested to come on call as well, and does, trailing along with Web.

When they get to Nakamoto, they find Tom Graham (Harvey Keitel) and other cops hovering over the body of the dead woman. Soon, foul play is suspected, and Smith and Connor must find the killer before it is too late.

"Rising Sun" is taken from a great novel, and turned into an average thriller. There is nothing spectacular about the film. It stays surprisingly true to the book, but the very few things that stray from the course of the novel turn out to be the blunders.

There are no sparks flying between Sean Connery and Wesley Snipes. I think that Snipes was a bad casting decision. Connery is perfect for the character of John Connor, but Snipes just doesn't fit Peter Smith - whose name was changed to Web Smith for the film, for no apparent reason other than Peter isn't a suiting name for Snipes.

The director/screenplay writer of "Rising Sun" - Philip Kaufman, who brought us "The Right Stuff" - seems to have charisma and obviously tries to keep the film true to the book. Unfortunately, however, there is an element of suspense missing from the film. There are no real surprises. In the novel, Connery's character John Connor seems to know everything that is going to happen, but there is still a sense of suspense. In the film, however, Connery's Connor seems to know TOO much about everything that is going to happen. Instead of being one step ahead like he was in the book, he seems to be twenty steps ahead in the film. There is one scene that really jumped out at me where Connor walks in and says, upon discovering a man believed to be dead, "Oh, I was wondering when he'd get here!" In the novel, Connor gives a reason why he knew the man wasn't dead. In the film, he just seems to know the man is still alive for no apparent reason. If Connor knows everything that is happening, everything that has happened, and everything that is going to happen, why keep Web - and us - in the dark?

At least Connery fit the character of Connor - it would have been about ten times worse if they had chosen someone else.

Believe it or not, the film might have been better if it had NOT been so close to the book. What I mean by this, is that by making everything just like the book, Kaufman raises the expectations a notch, and when ONE SINGLE THING is changed from the book, the audience is disappointed, because by then we have come to expect everything in the movie to be like the book. Expectations wouldn't have been so high if he had made everything different from the book. Which is NOT to say I don't enjoy that he stayed true to the book.

It's a confusing opinion. In some ways, I enjoy how true to the novel the film was. But there is just something missing. Even though the cast is top notch for the most part, Snipes just didn't fit. And while Connery was perfect as Connor, he seemed to know too much about what is going on. There is no real suspense. Perhaps that is the biggest flaw of the film.

A great book turned into an average thriller worth seeing once.
 
Movie Guru Rating
Average but solid.  Fans of this genre will probably enjoy it.  Others may not. Average but solid.  Fans of this genre will probably enjoy it.  Others may not. Average but solid.  Fans of this genre will probably enjoy it.  Others may not.
  3 out of 5 stars

 
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