Haven (R)

Review Date: September 22nd, 2006

Orlando Bloom swaps swashbuckling swords and Elvish arrows for crimes of island passion in this murky, confusing thriller.


Haven is one of those purposely nonlinear films in which multiple stories cross at ''random'' times and locations, only to wind up being inextricably connected to each other in the end (thanks a lot, Quentin Tarantino). In this case, the two main arcs belong to shady businessman Carl (Bill Paxton) and his teenage daughter, Pippa (Agnes Bruckner), and to laid-back fisherman Shy (Bloom) and his secret love, Andrea (Zoe Saldana). Carl and Pippa flee to Grand Cayman from Miami when the Feds find out about his deal with cynical British businessman Allen (Stephen Dillane), while Shy has spent his whole life on the island, getting by just fine until he falls for the boss's daughter and incurs her family's wrath. Their stories collide on one hot, fateful night when tensions stretch to their breaking point and it becomes virtually impossible to tell who's out to get who--and why.


Most of the film's characters are fairly one-dimensional, but you can't really blame the cast--defiant Daddy's girl, slick island shyster, gun-toting gangsta, crooked businessman, poor fisherman with a heart of gold, and so on. But because of that--and the fact few of the actors end up getting significant screen time due to the movie's fractured storytelling style--not many of the performances are all that memorable. Anthony Mackie (who also impressed in Half Nelson) does a good job seething with rage and resentment as Andrea's older brother, Hammer, and Saldana has her moments as a good girl brought down by heartbreak, but everyone else seems to be in it more for the island location than the chance to stretch their acting muscles. As for Bloom, he continues to prove that while he's good at ''earnest'' and ''vulnerable,'' while ''complex'' and ''tough'' elude him.


Making a movie like this work is no small challenge, but unfortunately it's one that director Frank E. Flowers doesn't rise to meet. He juggles the interconnected stories awkwardly--after following Carl and Pippa for the first 30 minutes or so, the film abruptly abandons them to switch over to Shy, with no real explanation on where the other two have gone. It's only much later that the timeline and plot start to become clear, but by then the characters' motivations and double-crosses have gotten so muddled that it's difficult to care all that much about how everything fits together. It's one thing to make an audience think a little. Memento and The Usual Suspects are fine examples of head-scratchers that reward you for giving your brain cells a workout. But it's quite another to confuse them with unnecessarily complicated details that don't end up making a difference in the end.

Bottom Line

Hollywood.com rated this film 1 star.