Picks and Pans Review: Rising Sun
Lethal Weapon with a brain transplant, this is an entertainingly fast and furious high-tech mystery-thriller set in Los Angeles, with an ingenious, complex-verging-on-convoluted plot.
The movie, directed by Philip Kaufman, was adapted from Michael Crichton's controversial 1992 novel by Crichton, Kaufman and Michael Backes. The novel was falsely condemned as Japan bashing. The movie is a model of equanimity, although there is an unseemly, if fleeting, reference to Japanese men's predilection for tall, blond American women.
The focus is on Connery and Snipes, L.A. cops designated as liaisons to the city's Japanese community, trying to solve the murder of a young (and tall and blond) American woman, played by model Tatjana Patitz, at an office building owned by a Japanese conglomerate.
The only philosophizing that interrupts the sleuthing is an implicit allusion to Americans' willingness to sell off aspects of their culture, from real property to dominance of the electronics industry.
Connery is at the top of his jaunty, sarcasm-dripping form—nobody would ever doubt either his toughness or his intelligence. He matches up well with the smooth hipness of Snipes. Keitel is his rodentine self as Snipes' old partner, and Japanese star Tagawa displays a Bogart-like combination of charm and menace as the prime suspect in the murder.
The film clears up some of the novel's confusions. Both the many Japanese characters and the computerized electronic gimmicks used to solve the crime are easier to keep track of on the screen than on the page. And if the final scenes are still a trifle murky, Kaufman stages them energetically. You may not be sure who did what, but you'll know the bad guys got what they deserved. (R)