The Believers (1987)★★★★☆


Maybe it’s just Martin Sheen’s soothing voice hypnotizing me into acquiescence, but I liked this movie. I’ve been watching The West Wing for the first time recently – I know, I know, late to the party – so when I saw that Martin Sheen was in a horror movie (that was available on Amazon Video!) I had to watch it.

And I liked it! There were a lot of familiar faces in it, and the acting was great. Martin Sheen crying, the cleaning lady crying, the kid crying. Okay, so there was a lot of crying in this movie, but it was all fantastically acted. Oh yeah, and Jimmy Smits cried, too.

I read a couple of reviews that felt the movie threw a bunch of symbolism at the audience without explanation. On the surface, that’s true – but if you understand Spanish, a lot of that context is spoken out loud. The explanation is there, but you have to know how to look (or listen) for it. I also imagine that there’s more exposition in the novel that was lost in adaptation, but I haven’t read it to say for sure.

This movie takes the idea that the wealthy elite are sacrificing the future for the sake of personal gain quite literally, and then hits the audience over the head with that idea repeatedly. Sadly though, it doesn’t do much else with that idea. The characters are compelling and relatable, so the story plays as interesting…but also predictable, and I found myself shaking my head as Cal (Martin Sheen’s character) walked right into some sticky situations he should have seen coming a mile away. Especially as a police psychologist.

(Spoilers ahead) I was sure, however, that Marty (Richard Masur’s character) was going to be in on it, and surprised to find myself relieved to be wrong. Not that surprised, though…Marty was the most likable character of the movie next to Chris. And can we talk about Chris for a second? Harley Cross was awesome in the role. I was impressed – Chris goes through a broad range of emotions in this story, and Harley Cross sold every one perfectly.

Overall I really enjoyed this film. It never felt slow, there were no over-the-top special effects (though the fall at the very end was a little laughable), and it had Martin Sheen.