The Ghost and the Darkness

1996

The Ghost and the Darkness

Critics Consensus

The Ghost and the Darkness hits its target as a suspenseful adventure, but it falls into a trap of its own making whenever it reaches for supernatural profundity.

51%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 47

75%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 53,573
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Movie Info

In this old-fashioned jungle adventure, a British engineer, Colonel John Patterson is sent to the Tsavo River deep in the East African wilds to construct a vast railroad bridge as part of the Pan Africa railway. But instead of focusing all his attention on getting his crew, comprised of a tempestuous crowd of natives, Moslems and Hindus, to construct the bridge, he ends up fighting a nearly mystical pair of man-slaughtering rogue lions with the help of an Africanized great white hunter. The film contains considerable violence as the lions turn out to be voracious and ruthless killers. The plot is allegedly based upon a true story.

Cast

Michael Douglas
as Charles Remington
Val Kilmer
as Col. John Henry Patterson
Tom Wilkinson
as John Beaumont
John Kani
as Samuel
Bernard Hill
as Dr. Hawthorne
Brian McCardie
as Angus Starling
Henry Cele
as Mahina
Om Puri
as Abdullah
Alex Ferns
as Stockton
Nick Lorentz
as Photographer
Kurt Egelhof
as Indian Victim
Jack Devnarain
as Nervous Sikh Orderly
Giles Masters
as Beaumont's Clerk
George Middlekoop
as Station Master
Satchu Annamalai
as Worker No. 1
Teddy Reddy
as Worker No. 2
Rakeem Kahn
as Worker No. 3
Glen Gabela
as Orderly No. 1
Richard Nwamba
as Orderly No. 2
Kaycey Padayachee
as Beaumont's Valet
Patrick Gifford
as Patterson's Son
Justin Gifford
as Patterson's Son
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Critic Reviews for The Ghost and the Darkness

All Critics (47) | Top Critics (10) | Fresh (24) | Rotten (23)

Audience Reviews for The Ghost and the Darkness

  • Dec 22, 2015
    It's an embarrassing failure on all fronts, which is a shame as it squanders a perfectly good (and true) man vs. lion story. I think Kilmer and Douglas had a contest to see who's accent work could be worst (Spoiler alert: Kilmer won).
    Alec B Super Reviewer
  • Dec 06, 2011
    This movie is unintentionally hilarious with its cheesy lines and horrible acting. Michael Douglas turns in a hilariously bad performance while Val Kilmer is tolerable. The only thing that makes this movie interesting is that it is true (with Hollywood exaggerations of course).
    Sanjay R Super Reviewer
  • Apr 15, 2011
    Based on a true story, this is a suspenseful adventure yarn about the Tsavo Manhunters who terrorized laborers working on a railroad in East Africa in 1896. The Tsavo Manhunters are a pair of vicious lions who kill for sport, and seem unafraid of man and fire, and have an almost supernatural ability to sense danger and traps. The native workers name them the Ghost and The Darkness, due to their attack methods. Col. John Henry Patterson is a railroad engineer/big game hunter tasked with killing the lions and getting the railroad built on time. His efforts to succeed continually fail, so a wily American big game hunter named Charles Remington is brought in to help him out. Screenwriter William Goldman was originally wanting to meld Lawrence of Arabia with Jaws. The basic idea of that is onscreen, but unfortunately it isn't taking to the level it could have been. Maybe had a stronger director been attached... The film strays some from the original story, mostly by adding the fictional character of Remington, but still retains the gist and spirit of the actual events. The film is actually rather light on gore, and some of the action scenes are a bit too choppy and frenetic with how they're edited, but somehow the film is still rather suspenseful and gripping. Plus, it's got some good cinematography, and the deeper themes of imperialism and "white man as champion" are touched upon and dealt with somewhat, so that's cool. The music is also appropriately subversive at times, and tense when it needs to be. Val Kilmer is good as Patterson, and I like how they don't treat him as a total wimpy character. Michael Douglas is wildly scenery chewing as Remington, but perhaps a bit too over-the-top and goofy. Still though, his performance is rather fun to watch. A pre-fame Tom Wilkinson is good at the company man who doesn't care about the setbacks, and just wants his damn railroad built, and John Kani is decent as the native sidekick Samuel. All in all, this is a decent enough adventure thriller in the vein of old fashioned adventure serials. It's pretty flawed, and sometimes goofy, but I found myself more pleased with it than not, so give it a go.
    Chris W Super Reviewer
  • Aug 30, 2010
    Loved this movie as a kid, and I still love it! Michael Douglas is devilishly good, and fun to watch. This is one of those movies that never gets old.
    Jason R Super Reviewer

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