It sure looks beautifully expensive, but this Antonio Banderas epic has sand where its heart should be....
Image / 130 Minutes / 2011 / Rated R / Street Date: March 26, 2013
Whether you call it Day of the Falcon or Black Gold (as it was known in overseas markets), this is a big movie. Aspiring to David Lean size and scope, this epic tale of west meeting east and the bloodlust for oil that drives them both bends over backwards to prove that studios and financiers spent a boatload of money on the thing (budget estimates are around $55 million).
The kicker, though, is that even with the steady directorial hand of Jean-Jacques Annaud tending shop here, Day of the Falcon is a limp dramatic endeavor, one that looks amazing, but fails to find any sense of a beating heart underneath its international intrigue. It has the shape and feel of a modern-day throwback epic, but as a dramatic undertaking, it finds itself in quicksand early on and never fully escapes.
Our tale here focuses on a plot of land called The Yellow Belt, a stretch of barren wasteland that is the point of argument between two feuding tribes in what is now Saudi Arabia. Once it’s revealed that this desert swatch is fertile with oil, though, America comes a-knockin’, and a Texan shows up, hungry to drill. This exacerbates already-strained relations between the tribes, and all hell breaks loose.
Performances here are fine – Mark Strong, Tahar Rahim, and even Antonio Banderas do what they can with their histrionic characters – but even at just over two hours, Day of the Falcon feels long and unfocused. It’s certainly a timely film and its historical backdrop is irresistible, but its various elements just don’t add up. Its canvas as a big-budget epic is staggering, but a little more oomph in the movie’s script would have helped things significantly.