US, 2001, 86 minutes, Colour.
Rob Lowe, Jonathan Banks, Kelly Rowan, T. C. Carson, Joe Santos, Mark Boone Jr, David Flynn, James Coburn.
Directed by Scott Ziehl.
Proximity has some rather good ideas behind it but, as it moves on, it becomes one of those frantic pursuit thrillers, emphasising the action more than the implications of the theme.
And the theme is significant, suggested in the opening sequence with James Coburn as a rich businessman whose wife has been killed in an accident and whose killer has succeeded with court appeals. It emerges that he has set up a scheme, going to the families of the victims of accidents, getting large amounts of money from them, with an arrangement with a warden and his guards to kill targeted perpetrators.
Rob Lowe plays Will, a professor, guilty of manslaughter because of drink and the death of one of his students. He is about to be released but a fellow prisoner alerts him to the number of deaths in the prison – that man is alleged to have hanged himself in his cell. Mark Boone Jr plays the lawyer to whom Will turns after a bizarre experience where there is an attempt on his life but he escapes. He visits his wife and son, he goes with his lawyer to the journalist who covered his case, is pursued by the warden but especially by a demented prisoner and two determined guards.
Will infiltrates the office of the businessman, takes possession of a video, gives it to the journalist and, after some chases and shooting sequences on a train and in a railway station, the businessman is arrested, most of the pursuers are killed – and the professor is reunited with his wife and family who had been abducted.
1. Expected elements of a prison escape thriller, life in prison, on the run? The unexpected elements, the conspiracy in the prison, outside the prison and the families of victims?
2. The city of Cleveland, the prison, the interiors and cells, warden’s office? Homes? Streets and chase sequences? Offices? The train? The musical score?
3. The introduction to Will, in the yard, the information about the number of prisoners killed, his reading, keeping to himself, his cell, the noises in the night, the reaction of the guards? His interview with the warden?
4. In the van, his interview put forward, the sudden attack by Lawrence, the guards, the accident? Will going to rescue the guards, the guns, his escaping?
5. Will and his lawyer, his contacting him, the phone call and the prison saying Will was in the infirmary? Their going to the journalist, his covering Will’s case, the animosity? Getting him involved?
6. The visit home, seeing his son, his wife? The background of his drinking, the flashbacks to the car, the student, the accident? The anger of her parents?
7. The guards, being in the conspiracy, with Lawrence, the pursuit, the chase through the suburbs? The later chase in the car?
8. The character of Jim Corcoran, the pre-credits and his giving advice to the couple, the later revelation of his plan, the seminar and his explanation of his wife’s death, the appeals of the perpetrator? His scheme, persuading the families, their paying over the money, the warden and the guards and the execution of the perpetrators? Will infiltrating his office, looking at the video, taking it?
9. Wills’ giving the video to the journalist? The journalist interrogating Corcoran at the seminar?
10. Lawrence, his intensity, meeting with the warden and his control, the warden being subservient to Corcoran? Corcoran’s promise for him to be on the board, later withdrawing this? His threats? The two guards, relentless, the Catholic guard with a big family and his reluctance? Ultimately not shooting Will? Lawrence, continuing to pursue Will, killing the lawyer, abducting the wife and son? The rendezvous on the train?
11. The train, guns, escape from the train, in the public area, the relentless shooting?
12. The truth out, the role of the journalist? The arrest of Corcoran? The death of the warden, the arrest of the guards?
13. And the happy ending with the family reunion?