Medicine Man Review

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After years of research in the Amazon, Dr Robert Campbell thinks he's found a cure for cancer. His initial disgust at the arrival of a female assistant is put aside when the precious jungle is threatened with destruction.


After the non-stop explosions and ghastly deaths of Predator, Die Hard and The Hunt For Red October — huge hits the lot of ’em — director John McTiernan has clearly decided the time has come for a little character development and a nod to the environmentally friendly sensibilities presently sweeping Hollywood. Sadly for McTiernan and his backers, however, his strengths evidently do lie in the action department after all, the only truly riveting parts of this somewhat slight tale coming when he gets his teeth into a some slam-bam dramatics and finally blows something up.

Sean Connery is in his element as a sod of almost heroic grumpiness, a pony-tailed scientist holed up in the rainforest where he’s discovered the cure for cancer, the only problem being that he’s mislaid the formula. Thus, he and his newly arrived assistant (Bracco, unrecognisable from her GoodFellas days and with the most irritating New York whine ever inflicted on a cinema audience) embark on a quest to re-discover the cure. Kicking off with the standard mutual-loathing, the duo gradually learn respect for one another and end up, of course, the best of friends as they attempt to stop the inevitable bulldozers smashing through the forest to make way for a road, so destroying any chance humanity may have of defeating the Big C.

Although the Mexican locations and the tree-top stunts are undoubtedly spectacular, Tom Schulman’s script (which earned him an unbelievable $3 million) is remarkably unpolished and lumpy, with the depiction of the quaint, naked aboriginals smacking of the patronising and, occasionally, the insulting. That said, Medicine Man is not without its moments of humour and tension, Connery is always good value, and — damned with faint praise? — the whole thing is mercifully short.

Entertaining in places, Medicine Man suffers from a predictable story and annoying supporting characters.