Michael Caton-Jones' Rwandan drama is framed by a state of siege based on a real-life humanitarian disaster, the massacre of 2,500 Tutsis by machete-wielding Hutus at a Catholic school abandoned to its fate by U.N. soldiers with orders to evacuate only Europeans. Beyond the Gates makes the usual feeble stab at an indigenous heroine by introducing an underconceived young Tutsi athlete (Claire-Hope Ashitey), before turning the voice of conscience and courage over to the obligatory white missionary, played with his usual dry world-weariness by John Hurt. The movie signs on for his bedrock Catholicism in ways that will make believers cheer and iconoclasts roll their eyes. But there's no resisting the priest's white-hot fury at the powers who helped engineer this catastrophe and then ran away. No one would call Beyond the Gates subtle filmmaking. But the Rwandan crisis hardly calls for delicate handling, and this impassioned movie, fueled by genuine outrage, is one from the heart of Caton-Jones, whose heart could probably stand a little warming after winning a worst director Razzie for his execrable Basic Instinct 2. Talk about a checkered career.
Hurt (right) wises up Hugh Dancy.
Opens at Metro, Fri., March 30. Not rated. 115 minutes.