'Prince of Persia' Recognizes Evils of Taxation

I only played the “Prince of Persia” game a couple times. Playing a game where you have the ability to reverse time and free-run is addicting, but not enough to make me go buy an entire game system. I might, however, pick up its cinematic counterpart. Jake Gyllenhaal stars in mega-producer Jerry Bruckheimer‘s latest epic “Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time,” a swords and sorcery flick set in the desert of an ancient, fantastical Persian Empire.

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Gyllenhaal as adopted-Prince Dastan wields wits and a time-altering dagger as he flees for his life after being falsely accused of assassinating his father, Persia’s King Sharaman (Ronald Pickup). Aided by a mysterious princess on a mission of her own (Gemma Arterton), Dastan searches for the truth of his father’s murder, a plot that would devastate the empire. To save the kingdom, he must expose the plot before time runs out.

Given that the film’s underlying premise is a video game, it’s no surprise that the story is a little weak. Actors take too long to say what they mean, and corny jokes abound. The script’s dialogue just isn’t quite as polished as most Bruckheimer films.

But as a fun action-adventure, “Prince of Persia” is a good early summer flick. Gyllenhaal dodges assassins and soldiers with a free-runner’s agility, and early in the film the camera exquisitely follows the video game’s style. Sand-speckled scenes involving the time-altering dagger also set this film apart from other B movies.

The film’s greatest gem however is Alfred Molina as Sheik Amar, a self-described unscrupulous small businessman. He waxes moderately and eloquently about a great evil that plagues the empire: taxes. His exasperation over government attempts to control his business, and later over the secret government-run, tax-funded assassin organization that is after Dastan, left the audience I watched with laughing and even clapping.

This harmless film is complete with a significant message regarding brotherly bonds and government involvement. Not a bad way to start the summer.

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