A seesaw chronology and chaotic approach plagues "Haven," an overly ambitious, multicharacter love story-cum-underworld revenge drama. The presence of Orlando Bloom may attract a teen audience, but the foundation of fans Bloom's built on the basis of "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy will find far shakier shelter here.

A seesaw chronology and generally chaotic approach plagues “Haven,” an overly ambitious, multicharacter love story-cum-underworld revenge drama set on a fleetingly exotic island. The presence of Orlando Bloom, who also has a co-producer card here, as a young dock worker literally scarred by love may attract a teen audience, but the foundation of fans Bloom’s built on the basis of “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy and “Pirates of the Caribbean” will find far shakier shelter here.

On a Friday afternoon, affluent Floridian Carl Ridley (Bill Paxton) is warned by fax that the feds are about to swoop down on him for shady business practices. Grabbing $l million in cash and his rebellious 18-year-old daughter, Pippa (Agnes Bruckner), Ridley flees to what he thinks is the famously safe haven of Grand Cayman Island. But he learns the banks are closed until Monday morning, his island lawyer Mr. Allan (Stephen Dillane) is nowhere to be found and Pippa has been lured to a “gangsta kid” party by fast-talking local punk Fritz (Victor Rasuk).

Meanwhile, genial British native and newly minted Caymanian Shy (Bloom) is involved in an increasingly violent dispute with Hammer (Anthony Mackie), who’s angry over Shy’s love affair with his sister Andrea (Zoe Saldana). In the four months since Hammer caught Shy in bed with her, Andrea has begun experimenting with sex and drugs in Fritz’s circle, which is overseen by local crime boss My Nigga Rich (Raz Adoti).

As events escalate, Ridley discovers lawyer Allan has another agenda, Fritz tips crime boss Rich off to the cash cache and Hammer throws acid on Shy’s face.

Debuting helmer and Caymanian native Frank E. Flowers brings street-smart energy to the proceedings, but needlessly complicates the film with a disastrous time-shifting structure that proves nearly impossible to follow.

A welcome flurry of early-reel title cards sorts plot strands into “The Americans,” “The Brits,” “The Caymanians” and various locations, but numerous subplots muddy the waters considerably. Pic sporadically cuts to an outdoor concert by singer John the Baptist (Kymani Marley) for no apparent reason.

English subtitling in key passages would help, as lilting Caymanian patois, peppered with street slang, is often unintelligible.

Beyond a tender bedroom scene with Andrea and a violent showdown with Hammer, Bloom seems just as swamped as everyone else in a part Flowers retooled and expanded specifically for the actor. “Raising Victor Vargas” star Rasuk makes a fleeting impression as the annoying Fritz, while Paxton, whose story arc as Ridley is abandoned for long stretches, is given little to do beyond his trademark anxiousness.

Editor Peter Christelis does the best he can with the labyrinthine structure and Michael Bernard’s over-caffeinated camerawork. Helmer Flowers doesn’t show much of the Caymans — only a few locations reveal anything distinctive about the British territory (which, per producers, had been used as a backdrop only once previously, for Tom Cruise thriller “The Firm”).

Toronto fest catalog confusingly lists pic as a Cayman Islands-U.K. co-prod, though closing credit crawl specifies British-German-American-Spanish alliance. Flavorful source music includes tunes by Ziggy Marley, Toots & the Maytals, Gregory Isaacs and Bob Marley & the Wailers.




An El Camino Pictures presentation of a Luna production, in association with El Camino Pictures. (International sales: Syndicate Films Intl., Los Angeles.) Produced by Robbie Brenner, Bob Yari. Executive producers, Kelli Konop, Aleen Keshishian. Co-producer, Orlando Bloom. Directed, written by Frank E. Flowers.


Camera (color), Michael Bernard; editor, Peter Christelis; music, Heitor Pereira; production designer, Damien Byrne; costume designer, Bobbi Read; sound (Dolby Digital), Jamie Hardt. Reviewed at Toronto Film Festival (Special Presentation), Sept. 12, 2004. Running time: 118 MIN.


My Nigga Rich - Raz Adoti Shy - Orlando Bloom Pippa Ridley - Agnes Bruckner Sheila - Joy Bryant Agent Martinez - Bobby Cannavale Mr. Allan - Stephen Dillane Patrick - Lee Ingleby Hammer - Anthony Mackie Carl Ridley - Bill Paxton Fritz - Victor Rasuk Andrea - Zoe Saldana Mr. Sterling - Robert Wisdom
With: Sara Carter, Santiago Cabrera, Caroline Goodall, Mpho Koaho, Kymani Marley, Rachel Miner, Peter O'Meara, Serena Scott Thomas, Jake Weber. (English dialogue)

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