A Mighty Heart
The problem with a story whose outcome you know is simple: How do you build and sustain suspense in such a situation? There are various ways, some better than others. In an epic like The Longest Day, for instance, you know the invasion will be successful, but you don’t know who will live and who will die. One of my favorite examples of a smaller incident is The Day of the Jackal. You know the assassin isn’t going to kill De Gaulle, but the process is made so interesting that you tend to forget that important point, and the tension comes in wondering how the hell will this genius of death be stopped?
We know Daniel Pearl will be beheaded by some people Allah will spit upon when they present themselves at the gates of Paradise. So we must focus on the process. Michael Winterbottom, who is a damn good director, takes the approach of making this very much like cinéma vérité, as if you were in this situation yourself, a part of it. So we concentrate on the police work, which seems to have been quite competent for a third world country. Unfortunately, the story is too complicated to follow, despite visual aids, and we know it’s futile in the end (the chief kidnapper is still alive, appealing his sentence) so it all becomes rather frustrating. The only thing that could keep me going through all this is the performance of Angelina Jolie, which is impressive. But in the end it wasn’t enough.