Lima: Breaking the Silence (1998)

 

 

Director: Menahem Golan

Starring:  Joe Lara (Victor), Billy Drago (General Monticito Frantacino), Christopher Atkins (Jeff), Bentley Mitchum (Bruce), Julie St. Claire (Elena), Richard Lynch (James Gallagher, Ambassador Ireland), Charles Napier (Padre), Dana Lee (Ambassador Aoki, Japan), Robert Ito (President Fujimoro), Natalie Roth (Delicia), Maureen LaVette (Betsy Brown/Phoebe Pratt), Darren Foy (Hector Carpa), Aleksandr Kashperov (Russian Ambassador), Angela Korabliova (Russian Ambassador's Wife), Vladimir Vasilevich (Judge In The Court).

This is a fictionalized account based on an actual terrorist event

 

Spoiler Warning:  below is a summary of the entire film.

New York, New York.  November 1996. 

Bruce Nelson works for a man named Jeff Campbell who is the American press attaché to Peru.  Jeff gives him a tape recorder.  Bruce is to try to get an interview with a strong critic of Peruvian president Fujimoro named Hector Carpa.  Bruce sits in on a talk with slides given by Hector.  He tells the audience not to believe the lies of Fujimoro.  The democracy is based on a dictator in a country where the rich get richer.  Bruce starts talking with the pretty young woman next to him who turns out to be Hector's girlfriend Elena. 

11th St. Brooklyn that night.  Bruce shows up at a party and speaks with Elena.  She in turn introduces Bruce to Hector.  Hector is willing to speak with Bruce.  One of the things he mentions is that Peru has a very sophisticated secret police.  Bruce asks Hector if the MRTA is trying to assassinate the president of Peru.  Hector says the man is untouchable, harder to reach than the US president. 

Bruce tells Jeff that Hector is a real terrorist and he turns over his interview with the "terrorist".  Jeff is headed out to Lima.  Hector is on the same flight.  Jeff  hands over Bruce's materials to shady-looking fellows.  One of the fellows tells Jeff:  "We will handle it from here."  In the airport in Lima the two fellows grab Hector telling him that they are the police.  Hector breaks away from them and the chase is on.  This turns into a long chase scene.  The police catch him finally. 

Elena tries to telephone Hector but she cannot get through to him.  The number has been disconnected.  Bruce is with her and he suggests that they both travel together down to Lima.  At first Elena is somewhat suspicious of Bruce, but she does go with him. 

Canto Grande Prison.  The Andes Mountains.  Hector is taken to this prison.  

Bruce and Elena are at the airport with Bruce looking for Jeff.  Two men seem to be following Elena.  Bruce talks with Jeff.  Jeff tells him that he might be able to work his way up to the War-Zone in the north.  This will be extremely dangerous, but if he accomplishes the mission he will get his Pulitzer Prize.  Jeff then gives Bruce a radio transmitter, but says Bruce should only use it very sparingly when there is some big news. 

Hector is tried before the Secret Martial Court Tribunal.  At the trial the tape Bruce made of the interview is played.  They also have lots of pictures of Elena and Hector.  Hector becomes downcast and undoubtedly feels betrayed by Bruce. 

Somewhere in the Andes Mountains.  The rebels of MRTA meet the bus.  Two guys following Elena point her and Bruce out.  The two are then taken to MRTA headquarters.  The leader of the group is Victor.  He tells the two:  "Welcome to my jungle!"  Victor tells Elena that Hector received a sentence of life in prison with no parole.  The charge is the same as for all rebels:  treason against the fatherland Peru.  But victor has some good news.  He tells Elena that they know where Hector is kept and they are going to get him out along with all the other political prisoners.

A roughed up Hector is thrown into a large jail cell many many other prisoners. 

Bruce transmits a message to Jeff in secret.  He says that he is at the MRTA camp and that the rebels will attack the prison in the morning. 

In the morning Bruce and Elena accompany the rebels.  They easily access the prison.  But once inside, government forces open up on them with automatic weapons fire.  A number of the rebels are killed.  Nevertheless, a great many political prisoners are freed.  Elena looks for Hector with no success.  She shouts to Victor that Hector is not here.  Outside in the open, many of the rebels and prisoners are caught in a cross-fire and a great many are killed.  Victor starts shouting that it's a trap.  He tells 15 year old Delicia to take the men back to the jungle.  He then tries to get Elena to get out.  But she still won't leave.  She keeps looking and it pays off.  She finds Hector; Victor uses explosives to blow the door and Hector is freed.  Elena and Hector hug and kiss each other.  But now they have to get out of the prison.  Hector gets away, but Elena and Victor are captured.  Later Victor escapes.  Quite a few of the rebels and political prisoners also manage to escape.  Elena is placed in a cell.  She screams no, she didn't do anything. 

Jeff is at the airport saying good-bye to Bruce.  Jeff tells him thanks from the American Consulate.  Bruce has second thoughts and decides to stay for the big celebration at the Japanese embassy given by the Japanese Ambassador to Peru.  When Bruce is at the party he notices that both Victor and Hector are there, but says nothing.  He avoids them.   A pretty woman named Phoebe Pratt introduces herself to Victor.  She seems to have really taken a fancy to him. 

Victor, Hector and Delicia start firing their weapons when an ambulance full of rebels arrives through the front gate.  They herd the party goers together.  One of the guests shoots Delicia in the leg before he is taken care of. 

General Monticito Frantacino meets with President Fujimoro and other top people in the government.  What they need is a list of the 300 people invited to the party. 

The rebels let just one reporter in to talk with them.  Inside they tell the female reporter that they want their story told.  They even named their operation Breaking the Silence.  Their demands are that all MRTA rebels as well as other political prisoners be freed.  Victor tells the hostages that they expect Fujimoro to honor their demand.  So, hopefully, the hostages will only spend one night as prisoners.  Meanwhile, Delicia cries in pain.  The priest comes to see what he can do for her.  He was a medical doctor before he was a priest.  He is able to help her. 

In the Fujimoro meeting the general says that they cannot negotiate with terrorists.  Jeff, representing the USA interests, comes to the meeting.  He tells the others that President Bill Clinton says that the United States is ready to do anything to help. 

The sixth day of occupation.  Hector is beginning to have doubts about the government giving into their demands.  But Victor still says they will give in and do it. 

Second week.  The Japanese ambassador takes a real interest in Delicia, especially since she is so young.  She becomes very relaxed around the ambassador and sets her weapon on a chair.  The ambassador picks up the weapon, which gives Delicia a real fright.  But he promptly returns it to her.  Then she starts to show the priest and the ambassador how to fire her AK-47.  Victor sees what is happening and yells at Delicia.  Later Victor tells the ambassador not to talk to his people.  The ambassador says some harsh words back to Victor, which makes the rebel angry.  He takes the ambassador out of the main room where the hostages are staying.  Victor tells him that this is his last warning.  Next time, he will kill the ambassador. 

Jeff gives Fujimoro and his people some fancy radio transmitters hidden in pens.  The government then gets the rebels' permission to let the Red Cross deliver some care packages to the hostages.  The package that goes to the Japanese ambassador has a pen in it.  The ambassador examines it and another hostage tells him to hide it because it has a transmitter in it.  The ambassador hides it.  The rebels then agree to a break in the negotiations for Christmas.  Victor dances with Phoebe, the ambassador dances with Delicia and then other couples start dancing.  Then suddenly Victor discovers Bruce among the crowd of hostages.  Hector and Victor takeshim to a separate room.  Victor hits him in the stomach, doubling Bruce over in pain.  When Bruce can talk he tells them that his boss Jeff used him.  He only told Jeff about the prison raid and it was he who had to have forwarded the message to others.  Bruce says he is sure that Jeff works for the CIA.  Victor doesn't believe him and tells him that he will be the first one he kills if he has to show Fujimori that he mean business.  Delicia takes him down to the basement and handcuffs him to the pipes. 

New Year's Eve.  Hector is informed that a woman is in desperate need of hospitalization.  Hector shocks everyone when he says that tomorrow they will be releasing all the women and children.  Hector goes in to confirm this with Victor, but Victor is just about to have sex with Phoebe.  Hector's entrance stops the action.  Victor at first is opposed to the idea, but he gives in.  He says that he will only give in to him this one time. 

The rebels tell the hostages that they are not terrorists, but freedom fighters.  In addition to the women and children, they will release the Peruvian men.  Before Phoebe leaves, she tells Victor that if he ever gets out to look her up.  He smiles. 

Victor visits with Bruce in the basement.  While being chained to the pipes, Bruce used his time to write the article he wants to publish if he every gets free.  He has Victor look over it.  Victor does so and decides to let him go.  Bruce goes out with the other freed hostages.  When Bruce sees Jeff he knocks him down with one blow.  When Jeff gets up, he talks with Bruce and gets him to accompany him to the President's house.  Fujimoro asks Bruce his views on what they should do.  There are still over 70 male hostages with the rebels.  Bruce says they should continue the negotiations.  He suggests that Elena would be a good go-between.  Fujimoro says if she agrees to their goals, they will let her talk to Hector. 

In the prison the female guards have Elena take a shower; then they put a dress on her; take her outside and put her in a car with Bruce in the back seat.  Elena doesn't know if she can trust Bruce.  When they get to the place where the hostages are being held, the general takes Elena from the car and walks her up to the house.  He knocks on the door, it opens and he says that Elena is here to see Hector.  Hector sees her and they reunite.  They kiss and hug.  The general tells Bruce that Elena "escaped".  Bruce is shocked by the general's actions. 

127 days of captivity. 

Hector and Elena are in bed together.  Hector tells Elena that he will talk to Victor again, but the fellow's been taking too many drugs.  When Hector does enter Victor's room, he finds him shooting up.  He tells Victor that it is time they let all the hostages go.  They already won; they broke the silence.  Their story is out.  And what did it accomplish?  They are just terrorists to the public.  Victor threatens to kill Hector, but Elena shoots Victor before he can do anything.  Victor dies. 

Jeff won't tell Bruce about any plans.  Bruce wants to know if they are going to raid the embassy.  Victor tells his fellow rebels that safe passes to Cuba will be made available for everyone.  They celebrate by playing soccer in the main room.  The Japanese ambassador takes advantage of the situation and transmit the message that it is time to strike while the rebels are relaxed and pre-occupied.  The ambassador is instructed to tell all the hostages to get on the floor. Fujimori tells the general:  "Remember, no press!"

While the commandos move in on the embassy and kill the lookouts, the ambassador goes around telling the hostages to lie down.  Elena notices the hostages lying down and she tries to tell Hector and the other soccer plays, but they just won't listen to her or don't hear her over all the commotion of the game.  She shouts:  "Hector!  They lied to you!"  The commandos burst into the main room and start mowing down the standing rebels.  All the rebels seem to  have been killed.   At the very moment of triumph for the general, Hector uses his last strength to shoot him dead.  The ambassador is upset when he realizes that Delicia is also dead.  Bruce is placed in an ambulance because he was wounded successfully shielding Elena.

The press asks the Japanese ambassador about his future plans.  He says he is going back to Japan to be with his family.

 

The film is no more than o.k.  They could have done a very good job with the film if they had told more of the true story and given more historical background.  Instead, they offered up a very weak script.  Several times my wife and I laughed because the story was silly or just unbelievable.  The story they added is not that bad, but not good enough to counter-balance all the weak places in the script. 

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.

 


Historical Background:  

1996 (late)  --  armed revolutionaries invade the Japanese embassy in Lima, Peru and took everyone in the embassy hostage.  They wanted to exchange the hostages for 400 political prisoners held in Peruvian jails.

For the Historical Background, see Ojos Que No Ven (2003)  --  troubles under Japanese-Peruvian President Fujimoro of Peru.

 

 

Return To Main Page

Return to Home Page (Vernon Johns Society)