Director: Peter Weir
Cast: Harrison Ford, Kelly McGillis, Lucas Haas
Witness is a crime thriller, directed by Peter Weir (The Truman Show) starring Harrison Ford who needed to get out of his Indiana Jones and Han Solo image. The movie is one the most nuanced and competent performance of his career. Playing the character, Ford allowed his fans an opportunity to see the ‘actor’ in him instead of the adventure/action figure.
In 1984, an undercover cop’s throat is slit open by his fellow officers and a young Amish boy is the only witness hiding in the stalls of the lavatory; talk about being in a wrong place and a wrong time. Ford’s character is assigned for the investigation of the crime, which is not as simple as it looks. Running away from the system he ends up hiding in the Amish country.
Witness began life as a fairly unremarkable police thriller; however, director Peter Weir’s fascination with the Amish culture resulted in his taking the story in a more cerebral direction. There are still gunfights and an action-oriented climax, but the core of the film is about the struggles of a city man adapting to a foreign lifestyle. One could argue that there’s nothing new about this plot element, but Weir’s approach is unique. He treats the subject not as an opportunity for comedy, but as a chance to explore characters and relationships. Harrison Ford was drawn to the project because it was unlike the other films he was appearing in. It gave him an opportunity to give a substantive performance without wandering too far off the beaten path.
Watch it for the underrated performances and the unique film-making approach.
Reel Value: 7.6/10