“An affair always involves a few lies.”
A half-Paraguayan doctor (Richard Gere) involved with revolutionaries finds his loyalties divided when a scheme to kidnap an American diplomat goes awry, and his acquaintance — an “honorary British consul” (Michael Caine) — is accidentally taken instead.
This psycho-political thriller, based on Graham Greene’s 1973 novel The Honorary Consul, is a dull disappointment. Its most egregious problem is the awful central miscasting of Richard Gere: we never believe he’s either half-Paraguayan or half-British (his pseudo-English-accent is annoyingly inconsistent), nor do we particularly understand anything else about what makes him tick. He devotes himself to caring for the sick, for instance, yet callously beds Caine’s new young wife (Elpidia Carrillo) without much concern for the feelings of either party involved. Unfortunately, his co-stars — with the noticeable exception of Caine — are equally unconvincing. Carrillo does little more than bare her bosom and simulate sex with Gere, while Bob Hoskins — star of director John Mackenzie’s previous film, The Long Good Friday (1980) — struggles with maintaining a South American accent in his underdeveloped role as a police chief who is rightly suspicious of Gere’s involvement in the kidnapping.
Meanwhile, the story itself lacks conviction: although the revolutionaries are presumably meant to be somewhat sympathetic, we never get to know them well enough to relate to their passionate cause; as a result, when they bungle the kidnapping job, they come across — somewhat incongruously — as merely bumbling fools. It doesn’t help matters any that all the characters speak English, despite the story taking place in South America; I find it particularly egregious to watch non-native-English speakers conversing in English rather than Spanish when “real life” would dictate that they speak in the latter (c.f. Hitchcock’s turgid Topaz for another representative example of this irritating and demeaning Hollywood tendency). The sole redeeming feature of Beyond the Limit is Caine, who brings depth and humanity to his role as an alcoholic has-been who recognizes the limits of his usefulness (tragically, he knows he’s not worth ransoming); his fine performance simply highlights the emptiness of the rest of the film.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Michael Caine as the “honorary consul”
No, though diehard Caine fans will be curious to see it just for his performance. Listed as a Sleeper in the back of Peary’s book.