August 21, 1998 at 04:00 AM EDT

The Siege

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
mpaa
R
performer
Annette Bening, Denzel Washington, Bruce Willis, Tony Shalhoub
director
Edward Zwick
genre
Action Adventure, Mystery and Thriller

STARRING Denzel Washington, Annette Bening, Bruce Willis, Tony Shalhoub

DIRECTED BY Edward Zwick

It’s like the World Trade Center bombing, only worse. Arab terrorists blow up buses and threaten children. Chaos reigns in New York City. And the FBI, the CIA, and the Army (under General Willis’ command) march in. Just a typical portrayal of Hollywood’s fave new villains, Arabs? Think again. The latest military foray from Zwick (Glory, Courage Under Fire) takes a frightening turn when Arab Americans are rounded up like the Japanese Americans during WWII. Says Zwick, ”The movie asks: Does one have to become a monster to fight a monster?” To prepare, Zwick put his cast through ”a political-science crash course,” says Shalhoub (Big Night), a Lebanese-American actor who plays a Lebanese-American FBI agent. While Zwick made reading lists, Willis took in Defense Department meetings, and Bening, who beat out several younger actresses for the role of a burnt-out operative, explored the murky world of the CIA. ”The politics are interesting,” she says, ”and the further you get into it the more questionable our interests become.” (Nov. 6)

THE LOWDOWN When politics are involved, interesting doesn’t always sell tickets (as Bening’s husband, Warren Beatty, found with Bulworth). One sign of Fox’s jitters: The film is on its fourth title (after Against All Enemies, Martial Law, and Holy War).

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