A convert to Islam sends the U.S. government a tape showing him in three nondescript storage rooms, each of which may contain a nuclear bomb set to detonate in less than a week. Helen Brody, an FBI agent in L.A., is tasked with finding the bombs while a CIA "consultant," known as H, interrogates the suspect who has allowed himself to be caught. The suspect, whose wife and children have left him and disappeared, seems to know exactly what the interrogation will entail. Even as H ratchets up the pressure, using torture over Brody's objection, the suspect doesn't crack. Should H do the unthinkable, and will Brody acquiesce? Is any Constitutional principle worth possible loss of life? Written by
The title of this movie could also serve as it's 1-word review. It is well worth watching if you are serious about films. But it very strong stuff that poses some serious questions about a subject that I don't like to think about; torture in the pursuit saving lives.
Samuel L. Jackson plays a shadowy U.S. Government operative who will go to any lengths to get info from a terrorist & his plot to blow up millions of people on our home soil. Michael Sheen (who memorably played David Frost in "Frost/Nixon") is that terrorist. Carrie-Anne Moss is an FBI agent caught in the middle of their deadly cat & mouse.
The movie's biggest strength is that we believe that Jackson's "H" is capable of doing ANYTHING to save innocent lives including the "unthinkable". Jackson, in words & action, really sells the role. This is some the best work he has ever done. Sheen shows why he is one of the most sought after actors today. Moss is strong as the movie's moral center -- a center that shows some very serious signs of disintegrating.
The tension is non-stop. The script is often heavy-handed, but for good reason. The direction is crisp & the editing sharp.
How this went straight to video echoes the question why last year's best picture Oscar winner got such poor distribution.
BE WARNED: the numerous torture scenes are very tough to take. They almost cross over into torture-porn (which I hate). I'm sure --I hope-- the filmmakers had plenty of debate about how far to take the violence. My usual disgust with such scenes was balanced by the way they drive home the debate of a very troubling issue.
I'm not ready to see this movie again anytime soon but I'm glad I saw it once.
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