From the Amazon with Love
In a way "Medicine Man" reminds me of a John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara movie, in fact it reminds me of a lot of movies because the basis of the story is a rather obvious antagonistic romance. We have the solitary man who has crafted a nice life for himself with a group of people in the Amazon rain forest who is less than happy when an American woman shows up but whilst neither initially gets on they end up falling in love. Now it's not a bad story line and there is always fun to be had with an antagonistic romance but it then distracts from what "Medicine Man" could have been about the mix of stories which include the discovery of a cure for cancer and the plight of the Amazon rain forests. As such whilst "Medicine Man" is entertaining it is only in a very obvious manner with nothing to make it really stand out.
Having been doing research in the Amazon Rain Forest for the past 3 years, Dr. Robert Campbell (Sean Connery - Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade) suddenly puts in a call for a research assistant, a male research assistant and so is less than happy when the very female Dr. Rae Crane (Lorraine Bracco - Goodfellas) arrives in the village. Despite attempts to send her back Robert is stuck with Rae and when he explains that he has found a cure for cancer but is unable to replicate the serum they find a mutual purpose to work together. But whilst initially antagonistic towards each other things begin to soften as they fall in love. But with the threat of destruction as construction of a road is meant to hit the village time is short to discover whether or not the cure for cancer can be recreated.
It doesn't take long for you to realise that whilst we have this storyline of Dr. Robert Campbell discovering a cure for cancer that "Medicine Man" is more interested in the antagonistic relationship between him and research assistant Dr. Rae Cane. From the minute Rae enters the village there is tension as first Robert's old fashioned sexist attitude shows itself as he doesn't feel a woman is up to the job and then every confrontation which follows you watch as they warm to each other. It is all very obvious and as already mentioned feels very familiar to countless older movies especially those which featured John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara. As such whilst this antagonistic romance is entertaining it doesn't deliver any surprises and plays out in pretty much the exact way you imagine.
But in a way it is a shame that "Medicine Man" ended up becoming just an antagonistic romance movie because it had the potential to be a movie with real meaning and drama. We have the drama of Dr. Campbell having discovered a cure for cancer but can't replicate the serum, there is also the issue over the local medicine man feeling pushed out by his presence. Add to that the threat of modern illness encroaching on the village's lifestyle by American's coming to the area plus the threat of destruction to the rainforest as we watch a road being built through. But because the focus is on the sniping between Campbell and Crane none of this really gets any chance to come to the fore, which is a shame.
As for the acting well it has to be said that as antagonistic romances go that between Campbell and Crane lacks a certain spark. Both Sean Connery and Lorraine Bracco play there parts well, maybe a little too over the top in certain scenes, but the rough relationship is amusing. But do you ever believe that Campbell and Crane are really falling for each other, not once. It just feels like two actors having fun playing characters who wind each other up and that is it.
What this all boils down to is that "Medicine Man" is fun and as an antagonistic romance it is no worse than the majority but it is also very obvious with little too make it feel original. And in a way it is a shame as this is a movie with great potential to deliver a message be it about the destruction of the rain forest or the affect of American's intruding in to the lives of the villagers but never really gets that side across.