Sometimes when watching a film, you can’t help but note the similarities between the events of the film and real life, as is the case with The Ghost. A lot of elements in the film are clearly inspired by Tony Blair’s tenure as Prime Minister and the links he had with America and as such the film could quite easily fall into political exploitation. Thankfully, a really smart thriller is created instead.
The plot concerns an unnamed writer hired to ghost write the autobiography of former Prime Minister Adam Lang. Around this time though, allegations that Lang was complicit in CIA torture have just been revealed, making the whole situation with Lang all the more intense. Along with this, the writer starts to find out the reason why the writer hired before him died, linking into a conspiracy over the level of involvement the CIA had in Lang’s tenure. What I really like about the film is that the writer is anonymous, this really shows the idea of ghost writing, along with the idea that the truth is anonymous and that names are the most dangerous thing to know in this game. I also really like how the mystery is handled. Whilst all the stereotypical elements of mysteries are included, such as blatant red herrings and the answer being right in front of your nose the whole time, the presentation of these elements is excellent. All of the mystery elements build on top of each other really well and when it all falls into place, the rest of the film and the whole motivations of a lot of the characters feel really natural. I also really like the whole thing regarding money and how people do things both to serve their country and for money, and how both of these aims fall by the wayside in favour of the truth by the end. I also really like the idea that the people in charge will do anything in order to cover their tracks and the overall danger that the writer is in.
The performances meanwhile are excellent. Ewan McGregor as the writer shows the initial desire for fame that writers have and the belief that ghostwriting this book will get him the contacts he needs. As the film goes on and he sees what is really happening, the weight of what he sees is shown brilliantly by McGregor, along with the fear he has that he will be killed because of what he knows. Pierce Brosnan meanwhile is excellent as Lang, bringing across this great sense of charm that lets you know why he was elected PM in the first place but he also shows that he is pained by what he has done and has a bit of cluelessness as well, letting you know that he didn’t fully know the decisions he was making. Olivia Williams is also great as Lang’s wife Ruth, showing a love for her husband but also a show of strength that lets you know she is a major part of Lang and saying any more will spoil the film. Kim Catrall gets some good bits as Lang’s assistant whilst Tom Wilkinson brilliantly shows the way people try to evade questions and the fear of being caught out in his scenes. There’s also good work done by Robert Pugh (in an obvious parallel to Robin Cook, hell Pugh even looks like Cook), Eli Wallach and Jon Bernthal.
Overall, The Ghost is a really good film. Whilst it can be argued that the film is cliche and predictable, all of the elements of the film are done so well that you are engaged throughout, aided by brilliant direction from Roman Polanski and great performances, in particular Ewan McGregor, making this a really intriguing and suspenseful film.
My Rating: 4/5