White Man’s Burden


From the Chicago Reader (November 28, 1995). — J.R.


This starts off as a dopey (if well-intentioned) racial allegory and then gets somewhat better, simply because its casting winds up saying more than its script. In a universe where white people are treated like black people and vice versa, a loyal factory worker (John Travolta) gets laid off by his wealthy, racist employer (Harry Belafonte); after struggling to regain his footing, the former worker winds up kidnapping his former boss. The best that can be said for writer-director Desmond Nakano’s rather abstract premise is that it becomes playable only after the viewer is persuaded to overlook it, and only because the class differences of Travolta and Belafonte wind up registering more strongly than their racial differences do. Produced by Lawrence Bender — who brought us Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction, two other movies preoccupied with race that are equally unwilling to handle the subject directly — this settles down to being a watchable oddity that doesn’t really take off; with Kelly Lynch, Margaret Avery, and Tom Bower. (JR)


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