Title – The Promise (2016)
Director – Terry George (Reservation Road)
Cast – Oscar Isaac, Christian Bale, Charlotte Le Bon, Shohreh Aghdashloo, Tom Hollander, Jean Reno
Plot – In the final days of the Ottoman Empire, Armenian doctor Mikael (Isaac) finds himself falling for teacher Ana (Le Bon) whose boyfriend Chris Myers (Bale) is an American Associated Press Reporter. As World War 1 encroaches, the trio find themselves fighting for their lives and their love as the Turkish government hunts down Armenian citizens.
“Our revenge will be to survive”
Review by Eddie on 24/11/2017
A handsomely crafted drama based around factual World War 1 happenings, directed by the filmmaker behind Hotel Rwanda and starring two of Hollywood’s most powerful actors, how on earth did The Promise end up being such a flop?
It’s not an easy question to answer but Terry George’s account of the terrible Armenian genocide that occurred during World War 1 at the hands of the Turkish regime is a film that lacks any power, imagination or worst of all for a film like this, a beating heart.
Moulding in the stereotypical war time set-up of a star crossed romance, which here involves a love triangle of sorts between Oscar Isaac’s kind-hearted doctor in waiting Mikael Boghosian, Charlotte Le Bon’s teacher Ana Khesarian and Christian Bale’s alcoholic American and Associated Press reporter Chris Myers, The Promise attempts to both shine a light on the atrocities committed against the Armenian people at this time in history, while trying to capture our hearts with romance in the face of adversity but George’s film never gets close to getting out of first gear.
Despite its well filmed vistas and handsomely crafted production design, The Promise is sleep inducing in its blandness.
It’s not easy for actors with the skills of Isaac and Bale to be unable to make characters they play come to life but George’s stilted direction and unengaging editing cuts down any chances his performers had of elevating the ho-hum material at their disposal to make The Promise a film it promised to be on paper.
Done right, this is clearly a film that could’ve been both an audience pleaser and an awards contender but the whole film feels like a production made with very little love, almost as if everyone involved was going through the motions, no belief that what they were making was ever going to be anything more than run of the mill at best, sad for a production that in theory is a vehicle designed to shine a light on a time in history that some countries to this day are still denying.
Final Say –
The drama is devoid of tension, the romance cold at best and the performances nothing more than pedestrian, meaning The Promise is a big budgeted event that fails to capture our hearts of imagination. Everyone here can do better and you’re best skipping The Promise, safe in the knowledge that everyone involved will surely bounce back from this $90 million dollar critical and commercial flop.
1 ½ fainting medical students out of 5