Friday, October 19, 2007

To the Breaking Point

Oy with the torture already.

The political thriller Rendition – directed by Gavin Hood (Tsotsi) and boasting an all-star cast – arrives in theater today, full of ambition, timeliness, and unfortunately, unevenness.
But first, though, a crossing of the Ts, a dotting of the Is.

The term “rendition” is defined as the “handing over [of] prisoners to countries where torture is allowed.” The movie centers on this extraordinary tactic and its effects on people and presumably, policy.

Alright, so.... Flying home from a conference in Cape Town, Anwar El-Ibrahimi (Omar Metwally), an Egyptian-born chemical engineer, disappears shortly after landing in Chicago, taken covertly and swiftly by the CIA on suspicion of terrorist activities. He is interrogated without a lawyer, and soon flown back to an unspecified country in North Africa to be tort-interrogated.

Back home, his pregnant American wife Isabella (Reese Witherspoon) and their young son wait at the arrivals gate for him, and then some more at home. Anwar has vanished, and it will be days before Isabella begins to understand why with the guidance of a senator-aid friend (Peter Sarsgaard).

Meanwhile, CIA analyst Douglas Freeman (Jake Gyllenhaal) has been tasked to oversee the interrogation of the suspect, even though he may not be the best man to do this since he has just survived a suicide bomber blast – and he isn’t convinced that the agency’s unorthodox method will yield any useful information. Too bad his boss, Corinne Whitman (Meryl Streep), won’t have any of that.

Rendition’s main ambition is to make us aware of the policies that may be in use in this day and age, but the movie just doesn’t focus on a story arc long enough, cinematically speaking, to make us really…care. And that’s just too bad.

What I took from it is the tactic is flawed. Duh.

The problem with this fall’s crop of political thrillers is they aren’t zeroing in on the characters, on the emotion, but rather on an idea that pits right vs. wrong, Right vs. Left, this vs. that. I think it’s fantastic that Hollywood’s trying to be representative of what’s going on, but perhaps it’s too much, too ineffectively. There has to be more than just thought to the genre. There has to be heart.

Rendition simmers with the fire within it, but it doesn’t burn.

My Rating **1/2

Photo: New Line Cinema.

1 comment:

Lancer said...

Hollywood is good at showing stories; not the truth.