'Witness' - Movie Review

Revisiting a movie from my youth. Director Peter Weir, with Harrison Ford and Kelly McGillis. In the mid-1980s, McGillis looked poised to become a superstar when she followed this movie with an appearance in "Top Gun" opposite Tom Cruise - but instead she vanished.

Ford plays John Book, a Philadelphia police detective trying to protect an eight year old Amish boy (Samuel Lapp, played by Lukas Haas) who witnessed a drug-related killing. But the crime turns out to be much messier than he thought: the police officer who was killed had his throat slit by another police officer - and the corruption runs deep enough that Book has to go on the run with the boy and the boy's mother (Rachel Lapp, played by McGillis). Book is injured and the car quits when he gets them back to their home territory - so the Philadelphia detective goes to ground in the middle of Amish country. Book has trouble in Amish country, and causes trouble too because he doesn't know how to fit in - and to some extent doesn't want to. But their basic life is painted as a paradise, and Rachel and Book kind of fall for each other.

The movie is slow-paced but fairly good. The inevitable violence at the end is lower-key than modern action movies - and more believable for it. Not a great movie, but unusual and fairly good.

P.S. I stopped the movie in surprise when I saw what appeared to be an extremely young Viggo Mortensen. Research shows that not only was it Mortensen in a small non-speaking part, but it may well have been his first Hollywood film.