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'Point of Origin' *** 032905
The Work = ***
So, how is 'Point of Origin'? Well... it is tough for me to answer. It is certainly not a bad film but... not one of my favorites either. It has good performances, great effects, (especially for a made for TV movie,) and moving sequences. Yet as a hole it seemed almost like it could have been a midseason episode from a TV series. I suppose that's not a huge leap to take since this was made for HBO.
The film was directed by Newton Thomas Sigel who is one of the best cinematographers working today. He did the cinematography for 'Three Kings' and 'Fallen' (among others) both of which had a great distinctive visual sense. You know if nothing else, if a film is directed by a good cinematographer, it is at least going to look good and 'Point of Origin' is no exception. It has wonderful moody lighting and Sigel is not afraid to manipulate the colors for excellent effect.
SPOILER WARNING, BEGINNING OF SPOILERS: Here’s my gripe with this film: Like a lot of pics’ based around real people (Liotta’s character is a real guy) the filmmakers seemed to have trouble finding insight into the character. The thing is John Orr (Liotta) never admitted to the crimes. If he did commit them (as seems very likely,) there is little evidence into what makes him tick. Maybe the trial shed light on his motive but the filmmakers certainly don’t let on that that is the case. The fact that Orr is the arsonist (which is not much of a surprise but I thought I would give the spoiler warning anyway) is truly interesting.
Why did a Fire investigator, a man who was a Captain, become an arsonist? Did something make him snap? Was becoming a fire investigator a way of covering up his deadly addiction? How could he reconcile the crimes he committed with his own family life? After all, he had children of his own that he seemed to love (if in a somewhat detached way.) How could he simply kill children with his fires who were not that removed from his own?
All of these questions are never answered in 'Point of Origin' and as a result the core of the film seems somewhat empty. The filmmakers don’t know what makes John Orr tick other than his ego. So was it somehow about showing up everyone and proving his superiority? Again, no answers (although to be fair the film does imply that is the driving reason.) END OF SPOILERS
John Leguizamo plays Keith Lang, a fire inspector who the older, more skilled, John Orr takes under his wing. Had the filmmakers spent more time developing Leguizamo’s character or at least pushing him to the forefront of the film, I think I would have enjoyed it more. He is the would-be rookie who is tracking the arsonist and his arc is left a bit on the weak side since I never really learned anything about him.
At the end of the day Point of Origin is not a bad movie but just an ok one. Great performances all around and a wonderful look provided by Newton Thomas Sigel are the films strengths. Its weakness is in the story arc. I just couldn’t get that involved. Individual scenes work great but the film as a whole did not do it for me. Recommend for fans of the cast and crew.
DVD = ***
All Together = ***
'Point of Origin' Links:
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