MEDICINE MAN (director: John McTiernan; screenwriters: story by Tom Schulman/Tom Schulman/Sally Robinson; cinematographer: Don McAlpine; editor: Michael R. Miller; music: Jerry Goldsmith; cast: Sean Connery (Dr Robert Campbell), Lorraine Bracco (Dr Rae Crane), Jose Wilker (Dr Miguel Ornega), Rodolfo De Alexandre (Tanaki); Runtime: 106; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producers: Donna Dubrow/Andrew G. Vajna; Buena Vista; 1992)

"The big-budget pic has Connery as the maverick scientist to keep thing perking and exotic background shots, but little else going for it."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz 

Action director John McTiernan ("Predator"/"Die Hard"/"The Hunt for Red October") strays far away from his comfort zone to direct this medicine/environmental drama in the Amazon. It's based on a story by Tom Schulman and written by Schulman and Sally Robinson. It was filmed in Mexico.

In the rain forest of Brazil, brilliant but eccentric research scientist Dr. Robert Campbell (Sean Connery) discovered the cure for cancer (obtaining the miracle flower source from the local medicine man) but can't reproduce the serum. The ponytailed Campbell is funded by the Ashton Foundation, who have had no contact with the mad scientist for three years. Upon his sudden request they send him supplies (a gas chromatograph) and a biochemist assistant Dr. Rae Crane (Lorraine Bracco), an abrasive young woman from the Bronx. She joins the middle-aged Campbell in the remote part of the rain forest, where he dwells with his beloved aborigines and is struggling to repeat the successful formula and is put off that they sent him a woman assistant. The idealistic duo yell at each other over everything (shooting for 1930's style screwball comedy) and also have to race against the clock to beat the materialistic developers threatening the sanctity of the rain forest with the construction of a road that requires bulldozing the flower source the serum is derived from.

The big-budget pic has Connery as the maverick scientist to keep thing perking and exotic background shots, but little else going for it. It suffers from a weak script (it fails to create tension over the research work or sexual tension in the battle of sexes sparring relationship) and the miscast female part in the two-character act comes across as too unpleasant of a whiner for us to care about. The film was a commercial flop.

The unpalatable mix of poorly drawn out cutesy comic dramatics and heavy-handed ecology messages about the great loss over the disappearing rain forest due to commercial interests and the plight of the natives, make for bad medicine even though the message is right on.

REVIEWED ON 6/4/2011       GRADE: C+

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"