The daughter of a brilliant but mentally disturbed mathematician, recently deceased, tries to come to grips with her possible inheritance: his insanity. Complicating matters are one of her father's ex-students who wants to search through his papers and her estranged sister who shows up to help settle his affairs.
Jack is caught with the wife of his employer, a Vegas thug. The thug sends goons after Jack, who convinces his best friend, Pilot, to flee with him. Pilot insists that they head for Seattle... See full summary »
A serial killer played by Jake Gyllenhaal travels through the hippest parties on a killing spree of Dalston hipsters. Gyllenhaal masters the role of unsuspecting dark-eyed psycho as he ... See full summary »
After a terrorist bombing kills an American envoy in a foreign country. An investigation leads to an Egyptian who has been living in the United States for years and who is married to an American. He is apprehended when he's on his way home. The U.S. sends him to the country where the incident occurs for interrogation which includes torture. An American CIA operative observes the interrogation and is at odds whether to keep it going or to stop it. In the meantime, the man's wife raises hell to find him despite being pregnant but the person behind this refuses to help or give her any information. Written by
Based on the true story of Khalid El-Masri, a German citizen who was mistaken for Khalid al-Masri, a man rumored to have been involved with the September 11th 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States. El-Masri was held an a black site in Afghanistan in 2004 where he was interrogated, beaten, sexually abused, and tortured for 5 months, after which the CIA released him and admitted his capture and torture were a mistake. See more »
The view from Senator Hawkins' office (which is supposed to be in Washington, D.C.) shows the Los Angeles County Courthouse. From the angle, his office is on the South corner of 1st and Hill Streets. A flag pole with the California state flag flying below the US flag is also visible. See more »
We have a saying, "Beat your woman every morning. If you don't know why, she does."
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In this day and age in which just about every other news story involves discussions of waterboarding, images of Abu Ghraib, or tales of forced detentions at Guantanamo Bay, Gavin Hood's "Rendition" is about as up-to-the-minute and timely a movie as is ever likely to come out of the entertainment mills of mainstream Hollywood. It's not, by any stretch of the imagination, a perfect film, but neither does it merit the caterwauling opprobrium it has received at the hands of critics from all across the ideological and political spectrum.
The term "rendition" refers to the ability of the CIA to arrest any individuals it suspects of terrorist dealings, then to whisk them away in secret to a foreign country to interrogate and torture them for an indefinite period of time, all without due process of law. Anwar El-Ibrahimi is an Egyptian man who has been living for twenty years in the United States. He has an American wife, a young son and a new baby on the way. He seems a very unlikely candidate for a terrorist, yet one day, without warning or explanation, Anwar is seized and taken to an undisclosed location where he is subjected to brutal torture until he admits his involvement with a terrorist organization that Anwar claims to know nothing about.
On the negative side, "Rendition" falters occasionally in its storytelling abilities, often biting off a little more than it can chew in terms of both plot and character. The ostensible focal point is Douglas Freeman, a rookie CIA agent who is brought in to observe Anwar's "interrogation" at the hands of Egyptian officials. The problem is that, as conceived by writer Kelley Sane and enacted by Jake Gyllenhaal, Freeman seems too much of a naïve "boy scout" to make for a very plausible agent, and he isn't given the screen time he needs to develop fully as a character. We know little about him at the beginning and even less, it seems, at the end. He "goes through the motions," but we learn precious little about the man within. Thus, without a strong center of gravity to hold it all together, the film occasionally feels as if it is coming apart at the seams, with story elements flying off in all directions. A similar problem occurs with Anwar's distraught wife, played by Reese Witherspoon, a woman we never get to know much about apart from what we can see on the surface. Gyllenhaal and Witherspoon have both proved themselves to be fine actors under other circumstances, but here they are hemmed in by a restrictive screenplay that rarely lets them go beyond a single recurring note in their performances.
What makes "Rendition" an ultimately powerful film, however, is the extreme seriousness of the subject matter and the way in which two concurrently running plot lines elegantly dovetail into one another in the movie's closing stretches. It may make for a slightly more contrived story than perhaps we might have liked on this subject, but, hey, this is Hollywood after all, and the film has to pay SOME deference to mass audience expectations if it is to get itself green lighted, let alone see the light of day as a completed project.
Two of the supporting performances are particularly compelling in the film: Omar Metwally who makes palpable the terror of a man caught in a real life Kafkaesque nightmare from which he cannot awaken, and Yigal Naor who makes a surprisingly complex character out of the chief interrogator/torturer. Meryl Streep, Alan Arkin and Peter Sarsgaard also make their marks in smaller roles. Special mention should also be made of the warm and richly hued cinematography of Dion Beebe.
Does the movie oversimplify the issues? Probably. Does it stack the deck in favor of the torture victim and against the evil government forces? Most definitely. (One wonders how the movie would have played if Anwar really WERE a terrorist). Yet, the movie has the guts to tread on controversial ground. It isn't afraid to raise dicey questions or risk the disapproval of some for the political stances it takes. It openly ponders the issue of just how DOES a nation hold fast to its hard-won principle of "civil liberties for all" in the face of terrorism and fear. And just how much courage does it take for people of good will to finally stand up and say "enough is enough," even at the risk of being branded terrorist-appeasing and unpatriotic by those in power? (The movie also does not, in any way, deny the reality of extreme Islamic terrorism).
Thus, to reject "Rendition" out of hand would be to allow the perfect to be the enemy of the good. "Rendition" may not be perfect, but it IS good, and it has something of importance to say about the world in which we now live. And that alone makes it very much worth seeing.
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