Starring Andy Garcia, Forest Whitaker. Written and directed by Damian Lee. 14A. 106 min. Opens Jan. 11.
There’s a timely and provocative thriller to be made about the battles between impoverished locals and foreign corporate interests over water and other resources in many corners of South America. Unfortunately, A Dark Truth is not the one, however noble its intentions.
That this Canadian movie misses the mark is all the more disappointing given the many cast members who deliver more than the hackneyed script deserves. Andy Garcia plays Jack Begosian, a former CIA agent now working as a talk-radio host in Toronto, where he has plenty of opportunities to ponder his past sins while walking forlornly through Yonge-Dundas Square. (Sudbury otherwise poses as Hogtown in the scenes that are set in Toronto.)
In the wake of a massacre in rural Ecuador that may be related to the endeavours of a Canadian corporation, Jack is enlisted to discover the truth about events that others will kill to cover up. The stakes get higher when he crosses paths with Francisco Francis (Forest Whitaker), a writer and activist who has narrowly escaped the massacre. His wife is played by Eva Longoria, looking distinctly unglamorous in one of her first post–Desperate Housewives appearances.
In attempting to replicate the mix of action, suspense and real-world politics found in The Constant Gardener, Syriana, and the Bourne franchise, Toronto filmmaker Damian Lee aims for something more prestigious than the seedier straight-to-video titles that dominate his oeuvre. (Devotees of Canuxploitation cheese have him to thank for the Jesse Ventura sci-fi epic, Abraxas, Guardian of the Universe.) Yet Lee’s ambitions continually collide with obstacles such as the obvious budget limitations, the clumsy staging of the action scenes, and dialogue leaden enough to give viewers blunt force trauma.
Garcia and Whitaker still lend the proceedings some gravitas. A veteran Toronto actor who was similarly fine in Cosmopolis and Edwin Boyd: Citizen Gangster, Kevin Durand contributes a sly turn as a shadowy operative on Jack’s trail. Nevertheless, A Dark Truth’s ham-fisted take on a real crisis leaves much to be desired.