“I didn’t kill my wife!” Oops, wrong Harrison Ford movie. I actually haven’t seen a lot of Dr. Kimble’s work now that a I did a deep-dive on his filmography, but I can at least cross Witness off the list for movie No. 84 of my challenge.
Witness probably would have been better to watch within a decade of its 1985 release, but it has some components that hold up and others that border on it being like a made-for-TV movie.
It does have a certain level of cheesiness in its attempt to mix a good cop vs. bad cop drama with a tale about life in Pennsylvania’s Amish country; but I’m willing to push that all aside for the forbidden will-they-or-won’t-they romance plot line between Ford (John Book) and Rachel (a pre-Top Gun Kelly McGillis.)
Rachel and Book meet after her son Samuel (Lukas Haas) witnesses the murder of a police officer and they are taken under his wing as he investigates the crime.
Spoiler alert for anyone who actually hasn’t seen it: This wasn’t a random crime and in fact Book’s boss Schaeffer (Josef Sommer) and narcotics officer McFee (Danny Glover) were behind the whole thing.
Book figures the safest place for them to go is back to their Amish farm so he can work on the case in hiding and recover from gunshot wounds at the hands McFee. Also, it’s clearly so he can fall in love with Rachel, only to learn that they cannot be together.
Book is not welcome on the farm at first, but n as he wakes up at 4:30 a.m. to milk cows and takes it upon himself to fix a birdhouse on the property, Rachel’s family decides he’s not all that bad.
The investigation part of the story falls by the wayside a bit at this point because how is a cop supposed to do any work without a phone and a smoke-filled police station with the coffee flowing at all hours of the day?
The setting of the film in Amish country takes away the opportunity for most common cop movie themes to be in place, but director Peter Weir managed to sneak in a few.
For example, Rachel insists he keeps his gun hidden and unloaded so Samuel can’t find it and they have to mention it several times in the film. Of course that decision was destined to come back to hurt Book later when McFee shows up to try to finish what he started.
Luckily it wasn’t enough to prevent Book from being the hero and saving the day, at which point he is seen smoking a cigarette on the farm and leaning against a car with his other cop buddies.
The final scene concludes what I assume was also everyone’s favorite part of the story circa 1985, Book and Rachel’s future. Of course all you see is an extended stare between the characters before he heads back to the city and have to assume she wasn’t going to be able to follow him in the next buggy.
All in all I imagine Witness holds up for people who saw it before and I found it to be an entertaining flashback to 1980s cop dramas that also piqued my interest in watching more of Ford’s films from that era.
And now for a non-related quote my girl Brie Larson posted on Instagram. From poet David Whyte:
“Rest is the conversation between what we love to do and how we love to be. Rest is not stasis but the essence of giving and receiving. Rest is an act of remembering, imaginatively and intellectually, but also physiologically and physically. To rest is to become present in a different way than through action, and especially to give up on the will as the prime motivator of endeavor, with its endless outward need to reward itself through established goals. To rest is to give up on worrying and fretting and the sense that there is something wrong with the world unless we put it right; to rest is to fall back, literally or figuratively from outer targets, not even to a sense of inner accomplishment or an imagined state of attained stillness, but to a different kind of meeting place, a living, breathing state of natural exchange…”