For the record, while Witness is arguably the best film Harrison Ford has ever starred in, the truth is Ford doesn’t do much talking. Rather, the actor delivers one of his most fiercely internalized performances in the film as John Book, earning his lone Best Actor nomination as a tough Philadelphia detective desperate to protect the lone witness to a murder after it becomes clear the deceased was killed by dirty cops. The twist is that witness is a young Amish boy named Samuel (Lukas Haas), who’s visiting the city with his mother Rachel (Kelly McGillis). As they’re unfamiliar with the ways of modern society, Book takes the pair under his wing until it becomes clear the boy is being targeted by the very cops who committed the crime he witnessed. Fearing for their safety, Book and company retreat to Amish country, where his witness can more easily be sheltered until the coast is clear. What follows is an insightful, culture-clashing thriller full of low-key action, pulse-pounding intrigue, and a smoldering-yet-muted romance that’ll leave many a brow moist.
Witness is also as slow-burning an affair as any film in Peter Weir’s vaunted canon, which is why it may turn off those in the Star Wars and Indiana Jones fandoms. But if you give it a chance, you’ll no doubt find Witness a moody marvel of a film featuring show-stopping work from Ford — not to mention the big screen debut of Lord of the Rings star Viggo Mortensen.