Witness Protection Process Exposed
When mobster Bobby "Bats" Batton (Tom Sizemore) wakes to find a hit man standing over his bed with a gun pointing at him he and his family are lucky to escape but quickly finds out that thanks to someone claiming that he has been embezzling money he is in big trouble. The only choice he has is to go to the FBI where he agrees to snitch on his boss to chief Sharp (William Sadler) in return for him and his family being placed in the Witness Protection Program. But it soon becomes apparent to Bobby and his wife Cindy (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio) that they have no money and no qualifications or experience to use in the real world. On top of that their son Sean (Shawn Hatosy) wants to leave and go back to Boston whilst their daughter Suzie (Skye McCole Bartusiak) is traumatized whilst Bobby can't help but want to know who it was who ratted him out. Question is will this broken family be able to come together and make a new life or not and will FBI agent Steven Beck (Forest Whitaker) be able to help them do it?
You see it mentioned in the movies every now and then when someone gets put in to the Witness Protection Programme and we see them starting a new life somewhere far away from anyone who may have known them and trying to deal with not just new identities but having to leave the old life, friends and family behind. But have you ever wondered what it is like to go through the Witness Protection Programme, what the various steps are and what it must be like, not just for the person who needs it but for the rest of the family who find themselves forced to go through this forced change. Well that is part of what you get in "Witness Protection", a made for TV movie from 1999 with a surprisingly strong cast for a TV movie.
What this means is that after a quick set up which sees Bobby going to the FBI to cut a deal for protection in return for snitching we get to see the turmoil which follows as they get moved to a secret location where over a series of days they go through what is almost a witness protection boot camp. As such we see them having to go through psychological analysis; their son hating that everything he worked for at school is lost whilst much to Cindy's shock she learns they have no money. Of course we see how this causes tension especially whilst going through this they are stuck in a few claustrophobic rooms but with every revelation such as Bobby discovering he has no resume or previous experience means he is going to have to start work as a labourer it causes more issues and chaos to the point you wonder if this family have any hope of surviving.
All of which, and there is a whole lot more, makes for a pretty powerful drama and one which is incredibly well acted. Tom Sizemore is brilliantly cast as the mobster who is use to having things his way and now his only response to a situation he has no control of is anger. Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio brings just the right amount of class to her character so you can see that she has lead a good life and whilst the mess they are in shocks her she still will do whatever to protect her kids. And it goes on as Shawn Hatosy makes Sean an angry and sarcastic teenager who you can guess would probably leg it the minute they start their new life whilst Skye McCole Bartusiak makes little Susie this innocent little girl who has no real grasp on what is going on but has to watch as the family end up at each other's throats.
What this all boils down to is that "Witness Protection" is an incredibly powerful movie which delivers this fascinating look at the turmoil a family faces going though the Witness Protection Program. This is the sort of movie which goes against everything which most people think of when you mention TV movies and a lot better than many would expect.