Master and Commander Banking On Crowe For Success

11-16-03 Keavin
The producers on “Master and Commander” are banking on Russell Crowe's star power to fill theatre seats and make the $135 million sea adventure a profit, since the film strays from the classic Hollywood formula for success like a leading lady for a love interest and intense action. The film only carries two battle scenes. 

The film took several years to get off the ground because of the risk of producing a water based film requires more money than landlocked features. (see Waterworld and Titanic for an example). The producers hope that Crowe’s star power and the popularity of Patrick O’Brian’s sea-adventures books will bring in viewers. 

Crowe isn’t the only ace of the producer’s sleeve. The film was directed by critically acclaimed filmmaker Peter Weir (The Truman Show, Dead Poets Society, Fearless, The Mosquito Coast and Witness) who usually brings a unique vision to every film he does. 

Crowe doesn’t think that “Master and Commander” will attack only action seeking males, "If you look at the breakdown of the percentage of people who actually read O'Brian's books, there's a surprisingly large percentage of women," Crowe says in an ABC interview. 

"For me, I look at it like this: Is Peter Weir going to make a fantastic movie, something that will be held up to, you know, the greatest of cinematic adventures? And I thought that it would be. I mean I never concern myself with the commerciality of the movies."

But unlike a film like “Tomb Raider”, this potential blockbuster has a plot. The action takes place in 1805 off the coast of Brazil. Crowe stars as "Lucky Jack" Aubrey, the captain of a British ship that is attacked and crippled by a French privateer. “Lucky Jack” must get his revenge. 

Instead of a traditional love interest, most of the plot revolves around the dynamic relationship between Crowe’s character and the ship’s doctor Stephen Maturin, who “Lucky Jack” turns to as a sounding board for the challenges he faces. The part of Maturin is played by actor Paul Bettany, who worked with Crowe previously in “A Beautiful Mind”, as the imaginary roommate. 

This is an action and adventure movie but it does skirt Hollywood convention, this weekend we will see if it has enough firepower to unseat The Matrix as the Master and Commander of the box office.