Like my book reviews site, these are movie reviews I write for entertainment purposes only. These are just my reviews and my opinions. They are not endorsed by Blogger or any movie studios or anyone else. So there. I borrowed my scoring system from the Metacritic site, which does not imply an endorsement from them, although I think they do have a very nice website. I convert the 1-100 scores into 1-4 stars, essentially it works like this:

1 star = 25 points
2 stars = 50 points
3 stars = 75 points
4 stars = 100 points

And then if something falls about halfway between, then I'll give it an added half-star.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Ghost Writer

This may come as a shock, but most books written by celebrities aren't really written by the celebrities themselves.  They use what's known as a "ghost writer."  The ghost writer does interviews with the subject celebrity, writes the manuscript, and then usually receives no credit for it--hence why they are called "ghosts."

When former British PM Adam Lang's ghost writer turns up dead on a beach from an apparent suicide, a British screenwriter (Ewan MacGregor, credited as "The Ghost" and come to think of it, I don't remember if he had a real name in the film.  It's kind of like the assassin character in "Layer Cake" that way.) gets a call from his agent promising him $250,000 if he goes to Lang's New England compound to finish the book.  Naturally he does this, though first he's mugged after being given another manuscript by a lawyer.  (BTW, The Ghost's publisher is played by a very fat, very bald Jim Belushi.  What the hell happened to him?  He looked like he was trying out for a remake of "Kojack."  Seriously.)

Things don't go much better once he gets to the compound.  Lang (Pierce Brosnan) is under siege as a war crimes court is indicting him for turning over supposed terrorists to the CIA for torture.  His head secretary Amelia Bly (Kim Cattrall) keeps the place under very strict security, to the point where The Ghost isn't even supposed to use the Flash drive with the original manuscript on it.  Lang's relationship with his wife Ruth (Olivia Williams) is strained and you instantly suspect that A) Lang is fooling around with the secretary and B) Ruth is up to something.  One of these is definitely true.

Once Lang goes off to Washington, The Ghost begins looking into what happened to his predecessor.  Is it surprising anyone to say that it wasn't an accident?  I mean, would there be a movie if it was an accident?  OK, maybe, but not an interesting one.

That's about as far as I should go with the plot summary or else I might ruin the mystery.  And really this is more of a mystery than a "thriller."  There is a sort of chase that involves The Ghost dodging some goons on a ferry, but it's not like "The Bourne Identity" or anything.  What disappointed me is that Lang isn't involved enough in the plot.  He's there initially and then leaves for over half the movie, returning at the end.  I thought there'd be more of a relationship and bonding between him and The Ghost.  (Because, really, Pierce Brosnan is just awesome.  Really, what hasn't he been great in, except maybe "Mars Attacks" and "Mama Mia"?  Also, Ewan MacGregor is pretty awesome too.  He was clearly the best thing going in the crappy "Star Wars" prequels and other movies like "Trainspotters" and "The Men Who Stare At Goats" are good too.  So really, having those two guys playing off each other would have been great!  Sadly, not enough was made of that opportunity.)  Also, it was too obvious that Ruth was involved somehow, though I won't say how.

There's also the sort of creepy irony in that Lang has to stay in the United States out of fear of being extradited to the war crimes court by another country.  The movie was co-written and directed by Roman Polanski, who inversely can't set foot in the United States because of a murder conviction, from which he fled many years ago.  (This was recently in the news again when he was arrested in Switzerland, though ultimately not extradited to the US.)  So by involving that with Lang, it almost seems like Polanski involving himself in the movie.  How you feel about that might depend on how you feel about his legal situation.  (I really have no opinion because most of that happened when I was a little kid.)

Anyway, it's still an interesting movie, though it drags a little.  It's the kind of movie where even after everything seems wrapped up, you know there's got to be one more twist to it.  It's also the kind of movie where you might want to watch it twice to see what clues you missed on the first time.  I didn't, but I also didn't have time to watch a 2-hour-plus movie twice.

That is all.

My score:  65/100 (2.5 stars)
Metacritic score:  77/100 (3 stars)

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