Picks and Pans Review: Beyond Borders

updated 11/03/2003 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 11/03/2003 AT 01:00 AM EST

Angelina Jolie, Clive Owen, Teri Polo

[STARS 1.5]

In this doozy of a misguided love story, the two stars each trot out a praiseworthy talent. Owen demonstrates that when the script calls for a sexy, smoldering look, his ability to glower heatedly is second to none. And Jolie shows, repeatedly, that she can cry on cue, letting big, fat, juicy tears dribble down her cheeks.

Other than that, Beyond Borders is beyond bad as it follows two relief workers who fall for each other against the backdrop of some of the world's worst hell holes (Ethiopia, Cambodia and Chechnya). Sarah Jordan (Jolie) is an American turned London socialite who is moved to join humanitarian efforts upon meeting the dashing and dedicated Dr. Nick Callahan (Owen). Over the next decade Sarah (who is married) periodically scurries off to rendezvous with Nick in some war—ravaged corner of the globe. If there's time left over after they finish making eyes at each other, Sarah and he help the less fortunate locals.

The movie obviously has its heart in the right place—relief workers do valuable, necessary and often dangerous work—but trivializes such noble efforts by using them merely as an excuse to bring its two panting do-gooders together. This is soapy stuff, and director Martin Campbell (Vertical Limit) fails to transform the suds into some thing more substantial. Jolie spends much of the film looking as if she reckons it's a giant photo op for her already well-publicized work on behalf of the United Nations. (R)

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