Warner Bros. Pictures | Release Date: November 26, 1986
7.3
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Generally favorable reviews based on 11 Ratings
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8
SpangleFeb 25, 2017
The Mosquito Coast is a very unique film. Maybe not unique for director Peter Weir, who is known for his slow and contemplative dramas, but definitely unique for star Harrison Ford. No action, no fight scenes, and no archaeological digs. ThisThe Mosquito Coast is a very unique film. Maybe not unique for director Peter Weir, who is known for his slow and contemplative dramas, but definitely unique for star Harrison Ford. No action, no fight scenes, and no archaeological digs. This is a straight drama and Ford was rewarded by it being the only film he starred in to lose money. Playing eccentric inventor Allie Fox, The Mosquito Coast depicts Allie taking his family to Belize where he buys a small village. Fed up with American life and the perceived failure of it as a society, he sees the small village of Jeronimo as a paradise where they can start over. Unfortunately, things go haywire as he gets more-and-more erratic in his behavior. A slow descent into madness, Ford turns in possibly his best acting performance in the film and it is a film with various thematic layers courtesy of Weir.

One of the most readily apparent themes at play in the film is the perceived failure of the American dream. Winding down to the point where people buy things they do not need and sells things to people who also do not need them, commercialization has superseded ambition. Driving past migrant workers in America, Fox laments to his two sons - Charlie (River Phoenix) and Jerry (Jadrien Steele) - that he has no idea why they keep coming here. They work their asses off and for what? Nothing but abject poverty. Constantly complaining about the way in which America has spiraled downward into being practically a parody of itself, Allie Fox is a man who eventually proves just how hard it is to build a society. In Jeronimo, he builds his ice machine that produces ice from fire and provides preservation for food and air conditioning, but his greed and pride lead him to abusing his machine to kill intruders. Backfiring, he winds up quickly destroying his settlement. Viewed in comparison with the theme of the failed American dream, Fox essentially answers his own question. He works hard to build himself up with no expectation of monetary reward. He does it because he has to and he views this place as his best chance for happiness. For immigrants, their reasons are very much the same. Unfortunately, infrastructure of the country they arrive in winds up blowing up in their face and knocking them back down to square one.

Early in the film, Allie also rants about the world. Stating that war has changed immeasurably, he believes that no longer is either side entirely innocent in war. Rather, both sides are different shades of evil. This belief comes to fruition when he battles Reverend Spellgood (Andre Gregory). Bringing Christianity to the area via his missionary, he and Allie do battle and the Reverend accuses Allie of being a communist. Bringing Allie's villagers to his settlement and unafraid to use a gun and kill people, the Reverend is hardly a good man. His own daughter, who befriends Charlie, hardly even likes him. Yet, Allie himself is a murderer and a dangerous psychopath. For both, they felt the call to come out to this area in Belize - the Reverend because of God and Allie because of his rejection of American society - yet they quickly discover there is not enough room for the both of them. Mirroring war, they both quickly divide their settlements and stay the hell away from one another and neither are particularly good people with both exacting violence on one another and their settlements.

As is clear, communism, the red scare, and nuclear holocaust also play a key thematic role in the film. Accused of being a communist, Allie also tells his children that America was destroyed by a nuclear bomb after previously warning that nuclear holocaust was on its way. In the mid-1980s, the red scare may not have been nearly as prevalent as in the 1950s, but it certainly was still around and Allie plays on this paranoia with his own children. Unfortunately for him, he brings nuclear holocaust to Jeronimo with his inventions that pollute the water. The end result being that it is not machines or the warheads we need to be wary of, but the people in control of them. His machine would not have exploded had he not used it for his own nefarious purposes out of greed, pride, and anger. In essence, he was the reason for hellfire coming to his settlement and opened himself up to punishment for his own inclination to fall into excess. Similarly, nuclear holocaust would not be a fear if it were not for the people willing to use them for nefarious purposes. Nuclear energy could be used for good just as his machine could be used for good, but its purpose is perverted and used to promote various agendas or criminal enterprises.

Thematically important, The Mosquito Coast may be too slow for some, but it is undeniably riveting to watch unfold. Thrilling, dramatic, and horrifying, Allie Fox's descent into pure insanity and into a dangerous man is hard to watch and a compelling character study of a man who subtly becomes the evil he was warning his kids about in the beginning.
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9
borderlinefilmsFeb 4, 2015
This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. Disney for Anarchists

Before there was a McConaissance there was a Harrisance, That's right, you heard right: Harrisance. Within a few years in the 1980's Harrison da Chicago lead what was arguably the greatest adventure movie ever mounted, and possibly the best science fiction movie ever launched. He was also featured in that adorable little Star Wars trilogy. Not to mention a slew of fine movies like Presumed Innocent, Frantic, the Fugitive, and two thrillers as Jack Ryan. Among my favourite movies from the Harrisance period (if I keep saying it, it will be a thing) were two directed by Peter Weir, an Aussie who never met a cultural clash he didn't want to shoot. Weir directed a couple of American films and chose the right man to lead them. Witness was well-liked and had a righteously tough Harrison cop defending the Amish. But in my opinion, Mosquito Coast was better. Look at the headliners. Harrison Ford , Helen Mirren, River Pheonix, from a story by Paul Theroux, scripted by Paul (Taxi Driver, Raging Bull) Schrader. The jaded Film Critics at the time weren't exactly blown away by the movie's ambitious scope but liked the way Harrison could play an anti-hero. What's so anti about him? He was great! I wish he was my dad. I would have loved to go on an escapist adventure with a genius inventor father who had grand visions of erecting a new utopia in the forests of Belize by manufacturing ice in the tropics. Okay, maybe he went too far. Got a bit swollen-headed and delirious. Became the patriarchal tyrant he was running away from. But that was from the rage he felt when realizing that while (in the 1980's) he might be able to elude multinational greed, he can't escape human avarice. O the tragedy of humans.
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10
StevenG.Jun 22, 2007
Possibly my favourite movie of all time beautiful, unusual and a chilling portrayal of shattered dreams.
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6
MichaelL.Mar 4, 2008
A mediocre adaptation of Theroux's great novel. While Ford is fine in the central role, the movie (and script) don't give enough breathing room for the inconsistencies and contradictions that ultimately doom Allie Fox to become A mediocre adaptation of Theroux's great novel. While Ford is fine in the central role, the movie (and script) don't give enough breathing room for the inconsistencies and contradictions that ultimately doom Allie Fox to become apparent to the viewer. His character just never felt fully formed to me, which is a big problem since he dominates the story. I hate to fall back on cliches, but in this case it's really true: the book was way better. Expand
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7
JayH.Jan 4, 2009
Fascinating direction by Peter Weir, one of Harrison Ford's best performances and outstanding cinematography make this one a must see. Excellent story, always interesting. Excellent performances from everyone.
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