Thursday, September 22, 2011

Baltic Storm (2003)

I’m very fond of conspiracy thrillers, especially if they are based on a true story. One of the rare thrillers in this specific genre is Reuben Leder’s (son of Paul “A.P.E.” Leder) Baltic Storm, based on the journalistic work by Jutta Rabe and Henning Witte. It’s easy to claim that conspiracy’s always to be in the mind of some paranoid wacko, but remember that many of our legendary assassinations and military ops more or less is conspiracies because they involve two or more persons who’s conspired to do make it happen. Why conspiracy theories always come up when something like this happens is of course because no one wants something to be totally pointless.

The Estonia disaster that claimed more than 800 peoples lives the 28th of September 1994 is filled with some interesting facts that never have been explained or commented by authorities, for example the rescue of captain Avo Piht, who without a doubt was alive after the disaster according to several official sources, but later was announced dead together with his passengers. This was way before the conspiracy theories started to grow, it was a just a fact that he was alive and that they were going to interrogate him. Baltic Storm delivers another explanation for his disappearance, but it feels more of a cheap Hollywood knockoff, with out any direct proof – just an idea tossed out in a mediocre script.

We’re following German journalist Julia Reuter (Greta Scacchi) and Swedish survivor Erik Westermark (Jürgen Prochnow) in their search for justice, Erik mostly because his son died in the disaster and he wants a real answer from the Estonian and Swedish governments. But soon their hunt for the truth is being sabotaged by everyone from Julia’s employer to shady and sleazy Swedish government officals and somehow, somewhere the Americans and Russians is lurking trying to hide their part in the disaster…

Because I’m one of those fools that think something was fishy with the disaster (Remember Scandinavian Star, which is still under investigation for insurance fraud – so if that disaster can have a conspiracy behind it, so can M/S Estonia) I’m also very interested in what a movie could offer. Not much, but it could have been a really interesting piece of conspiracy thriller. This is the second time I see it since it was released on DVD ages ago, and it still feels like a very cheap TV-movie, produced by newbies at some local TV-station with to much budget for actors. The script itself is a mess, and feels very amateurish and worst of all, the character of Julia Reuter (obviously based on Jutta Rabe herself) feels like the least believable journalist in the world. Prochnow is better, but he also has some emotions to work with and not a silly superhero-journalist that’s way too glamorized to feel realistic. What Donald Sutherland is doing in this movie is a big question, but he’s slumming around and having a ball, probably crying all the way to the bank.

The Swedish DVD of Baltic Star is worth buying because of one reason, it’s a 2 DVD edition and on the other disc there’s a fairly interesting documentary about the disaster and Jutta Rabe’s theories. This is actually more interesting and thrilling than the movie itself.

Baltic Storm is a lost opportunity, which is a pity. Maybe one day we’ll see this story told in a much more talented way.

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