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Though this film has been negatively received as being a take-off on
the TAKEN films (father looking for daughter under dire circumstances)
it is a different kind of film and one written and directed by Ruba
Nadda who manages to gives us a story that in many ways explains why
the Syrian situation (terrifying chaos) is as it is. If for no other
reason than to gain insight on what life in a country infested with
many 'secret police' organizations whose drive seems to be shoot now
Years after he left Damascus under suspicious circumstances (he was a accused of being an Israeli spy), Adib Abdel Kareem (udanese born British character actor Alexander Siddig) is comfortably at work in Toronto when he is confronted with devastating news: his eldest daughter, Muna (Jay Anstey), has gone missing in Damascus. Now Adib, who has not been back in over 30 years, must return to Syria and deal with his secret past in order to find her. Getting a Visa is the first near impossible step, but once in Jordan he calls upon his ex- fiancée Fatima (Marisa Tomei) whom Adib deserted when he escaped to Canada years ago to assist him in ploughing through the red tape and dangers to find his daughter. The Canadian ambassador Paul (Joshua Jackson) is inextricably involved as is Adib's old comrade Sayid (Oded Fehr) and the man with answers Halim (Saad Siddiqui). Inescapable is a thriller about a father's desperate search for his daughter and the chaos of the Middle East he left behind.
The film is tense and disheveled at times but that reflects the worrisome chaos of too many factions trying to assist a country who seems unable to find its core values. This is not a great film but it does offer a taste of what life must be like in war torn Syria. And for that it is worth watching.
I was very pleased to see this movie was willing to bring the action,
as good as Ruba Nadda's romantic-leaning films Cairo Time and Sabah
were. But where this film about a father who flies to a dangerous land
to rescue his daughter from an unknown threat is different from Taken
is that the hero is flesh and blood and approaches the problem in a
civilized way first and by the time there is fighting we can feel a
sense of consequence.
It has been said that the movie starts off fast. It starts as it should and as I reflected afterwards it avoids stock shots of a plane taking off and gives the impression of travel with aerial shot of a road the hero is riding along in a car. Cinematic short-hand. At the same time, it manages to avoid scenes that would be obvious beats in a lesser movie, like the panic of the mother upon learning of the crisis. Instead we see the moment before, as she watches her husband on the phone preparing to make the trip and confront the problem. There is just enough of the Canadian wife in this movie, considering that she would not compete with Marisa Tomei who "blends" into her environment and feels authentic. Even to the end I am thinking I hope Tomei's character makes out alright.
Alexander Siddig is not playing a super human but someone who is willing to face the worst and some real consequences to find his daughter. Joshua Jackson as a Canadian embassy guy manages to show several divergent aspects of his role without falling into any traps that would be central to a lesser movie with similar layers. Had Siddig been playing a typical action hero, he would have to cross a line into sociopath to clear away all the bad guys at once. He gets some good shots in and we can cheer for him, and one secret police figure is especially smug and needs to be killed but the way this film arrives at what has to happen is to take a left turn into character-motivated choices that are refreshing for the genre. Where there is tension, we are absolutely rooted in the reality of the moment by Siddig's expression. This is real for him and for us.
I have read a comment/review here on IMDb by one "A P" that seems to be a screaming stream of lies, one after the other. I contest his claim that people walked out during the TIFF screening. The movie grabs your attention and Siddig has a strong presence. There is a reason for every scene and not a moment is wasted. Any politics I took for granted. One villain is identified as Israeli but even he is redeemed. This is not a political tract. As I watched the story unfold as a Caucasian Canadian male I looked at the cultural aspect as colour that Ruba brings but the concept of a hero's descent into a special and dangerous world is one that we know and accept as classic myth. I had no problem identifying with Siddig's character, often called "Mr. Toronto" by an innkeeper in the film, and seeing it through his eyes. I am stunned by the current low numerical rating this movie has on IMDb and I trust that the more people see it the more the rating will improve. I noticed in a TIFF guide or other such publication Inescapable was misidentified as a romance. There is a restrained and heartbreaking lost love woven through the story, but it is a thriller that is correctly paced and set- up. It has action, though the build up is half the entertainment. I highly recommend seeing this movie.
After reading some other reviews of this film online, I was expecting
to be slightly disappointed...but was pleasantly surprised by it.
Having been a fan of Ruba Nadda's other films, (and a general groupie
of anything involving Alexander Siddig), I was eager to see her newest
film as part of the CIFF.
The movie starts rather abruptly, and just dives in to the plot - A man, Adib (who is originally from Syria but has lived in Toronto for the past 25 years) goes to Damascus to search for his adult daughter who has gone missing while traveling there. This sudden, rather stark beginning is very different from Nadda's last major film, (the subtle and slow paced "Cairo Time") but, it works: The story develops naturally in a somewhat frantic way (in keeping with the protagonists understandable anxiety) from this stark beginning, and we learn more and more about Adib's past and just why his daughter is in such danger. Marisa Tomei is also particularly convincing as the lover that Adib left behind suddenly some 2 decades ago, and Siddig is of course, flawless as always.
Without revealing too much of the plot, I will say (having traveled through Syria), that director Nadda has done a brilliant job of capturing the somewhat concerning climate of a police state, while also illuminating the rather conflicting general atmosphere of Damascus- haunting, beautiful, blue- tinted layers of history, coupled with this very brutal military presence.
This is a real departure for Nadda, shooting a political thriller as opposed to a romantic drama, but I think she succeeds simply for the fact that watching it, I felt like I WAS in Damascus...and she was able to convey this in a film she shot in only 29 days, in South Africa (the Syrian government obviously not having let her film there).
While there could have been slightly more character development in some cases, I found the film to be beautifully shot, and it kept its pace suitable to the subject matter.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Other reviews have touched on many of the flaws of this film. My review
is specific to complaints regarding realism of this movie.
Having lived in Syria for over 3 years, I was a bit skeptical that this film could pull off any sense of authenticity, and my skepticism was apparently warranted. Aside from the typical pitfalls of movies set in the Middle East (actors that don't really speak comprehensible Arabic, for example), this film is deeply flawed in its portrayal of Syria both from an aesthetic standpoint and a socio-political standpoint.
1. I understand the importance of the plot in bringing to attention the fact that Syria is a police state, but this movie goes way over the top with the Syrian flags and posters and banners of Bashar al-Assad everywhere. Yeah, OK, they're not rare in Damascus... but they are not even remotely as common as this movie suggests. It is cartoonish in its portrayal. Oh, and they forgot the Ba'ath Party flags.
2. The extras in this film almost all look North African, not Syrian. Syrians tend to be much lighter in complexion. Just adds to the inauthentic feel.
3. Far too much traditional North African and Gulf dress than is seen in Damascus, where the vast majority of people dress in Western style clothes.
4. Syrian intelligence (mukhabarat) agents monitor foreigners through hotels. All hotel registries are collected daily, and anyone with a history like the main character supposedly had would have been greeted by intelligence agents promptly the next morning. He'd be monitored in his every action, if not immediately detained.
5. The guy who plays Sayid, the old friend, behaves nothing like any Syrian I've ever met. His mannerisms, gestures, way of speaking, everything... all wrong! Not a believable character at all. While I was watching the film I kept saying to myself, "this guy acts like an Israeli". Sure enough, I check IMDb, and he is Israeli...
6. The Syrian mukhabarat agents portrayed in this film act nothing like they do in real life. I have had more experience dealing with them than I should probably admit, and they act more like lazy bureaucrats than as the gangsters they're portrayed as.
7. Intelligence agents in Damascus did not need guns to intimidate people. They rarely carried them and, if they did, they were generally concealed. They don't point a gun at you and ask for your phone. They just ask for your phone, and you give it to them because you know better.
8. They aren't going ask for the Canadian ambassador's phone, though. And the Canadian ambassador isn't going to be assaulting them, either.
9. In my 3 years living in Damascus, I never saw the pipe bomb souq for the convenient purchase of PVC pipe, nails, and used mobile phones...
10. Why is this girl's body - killed as the result of an ordinary bus accident - stored in some sort of military complex? Syria does have normal morgues... they aren't guarded by military.
Also, there is no desert on the road between Amman and the Syrian border (the desert is south of Amman). And random armed men don't stop cars on that road to take bribes of alcohol, either!
At least there are like 4 clips totaling maybe 10 seconds of actual footage from Damascus. That was at least something redeeming about this movie.
If the writer/director spent any time in the Middle East in the past few decades, she should be embarrassed by her effort here. Honestly, my own experiences in Syria would make a more compelling story than this fiction...
This was such a good film. I am baffled by some of the sexist reviews on line. Typical from Canada I suppose but this was a great movie, more personal, character study of this man who is from Syria and his daughter gets kidnapped. Not very similar to Taken in that he doesn't go around shooting people. My boyfriend and I were on the edge of our seats great twists and turns, excellently written and what a cast. Marisa really transforms but it was Alexander Siddig's performance, raw, contained, masculine. Wow. I was crying at the end of the movie. Some of the strange reviews on line almost seem personal especially when you see this movie. Canadians should be proud although I can see the pettiness. It looks like a Hollywood film. Pure heart though. Totally recommend.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Over complicated and taking itself way too seriously Inescapable tries
to craft an intelligent and complex thriller but despite a few twists
and turns and a leading man that does well enough it just failed to
really grab my attention. It certainly wasn't that the film dragged, in
fact the hour and a half flew by and there is plenty of action and
intrigue and yet for some unknown reason I just didn't care about any
of it. I wish I could explain it better but there isn't any one reason
why it doesn't work. It is just missing something. At times I felt like
I was losing track of what was going on and what this mysterious
background was of this father desperately looking for his daughter. It
felt like it was trying to be a more political version of Liam Neeson's
Taken. It very loosely touches on the political turmoil of Damascus but
then at the same time I'm not sure they used it as much as they could
have. The cinematography felt bland and empty and some of the
supporting characters felt underdeveloped. I do feel like there was a
lot of potential here because the script is decent and as I said there
is plenty of action but it all comes across as being without any real
merit and that's unfortunate.
Alexander Siddig is excellent in his role. There is absolutely nothing wrong with his performance as the protective father with an old secret that he has been running from. He is believable and shows a lot of intensity in his role. Joshua Jackson is much better of an actor than you would think from his performance in this. I feel like he sincerely misses his mark and almost seems bored in this performance. There is no chemistry between him and Siddig and he absolutely does not give this his all. Marisa Tomei is borderline pointless in this film. Her bad accent and deer in the headlights performance is annoying and barely existent. A great character actor, Oded Fehr is very good in his role but its such an unfortunately small part. I feel like he should have had a far more vital part in the whole story but sadly he does not though he has one very good scene towards the end when he is getting the truth out of Siddig.
To call the story convoluted is an understatement. There is a lot of intrigue and back story and to be honest I am not sure I even understand a single thing that happened. And yet at the same time, I never got even remotely invested enough to really try and understand it. I didn't feel like everyone was putting their entire heart into the film and I think that's where it falls apart. Ruba Nadda is apparently a very well respected writer and director but I simply felt like this was poorly shot and put together. Even the climatic reunion of father and daughter felt like it was lacking any depth. I'm not sure what drew me to try this and I'm not sorry I did because I have seen worse but this just felt so very empty. I wouldn't recommend it to anyone looking for any sort of powerful story because it misses the mark in a big way. 5/10
"I'm not the same man you chased away all those years ago. Find my daughter!" Years after he left Damascus under suspicious circumstances, Adib Abdel Kareem (Siddig) returns when he finds out that his daughter has gone missing. When he meets people from his past he is forced not only to confront his earlier life consequences but also find his daughter before its too late. This is a movie that is good, fast moving and worth watching, but also a little generic. There really isn't much to say about this one. Father finds out his daughter is missing, he is forced to seek help from those he has had previous problems with, encounters resistance. I did like the movie and I do think it's worth watching and while it is pretty tense I found that the daughter storyline seemed to have gotten lost in the jumble of what was going on. When you watch that will make sense. Overall, a movie that is good and well worth checking out but it is a tad generic. I give it a B.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Saw the premiere at TIFF, and I really wanted this to be good, (especially coming from a Canadian director who did well with her last film.) But this one just does not work. First, the story followed a far more superficial plot line than I expected. (You won't find any meaningful commentary on Syria here.) Worse, none of the actors was at their best. I'm not sure if it was a matter of the lines being poorly written or poorly delivered, but I found myself rolling my eyes within the first ten minutes. Marissa Tomei, who I normally like, was severely miscast for her part. The story was trite and full of plot holes, and I don't think anyone in the theater (least of all the people filing out during the show) cared what happened to the characters. (Not that much happened to them anyway.) Best wishes to those who worked on the film for better results in the future. But for this one, not a film I'd recommend seeing, even as a rental.
It's a shame that this movie is a mess, as we rarely see movies set in Syria, especially now with the political upheaval taking place there. Despite an admirable attempt in terms of production design to recreate a Damascus atmosphere, there is no sense of authenticity. Two great actors (Siddig and Tomei) are wasted on a clunky plot (mostly lifted from TAKEN, but without any of the excitement), and even clunkier direction. If it weren't for those two talents the movie would be completely unwatchable. And the music is just too emphatic, as if to cover up for the lack of genuine mystery and thrill. It's like blowing smoke in your eyes. I haven't seen the other movies that this director has made, but I understand that she is better at handling love stories. Perhaps she should stick to that instead of this cliché-ridden enterprise.
In all honesty movies like Inescapable have been made before and way better. Inescapable is okay to watch once and then forget about it. It won't remembered as a great movie. The story itself isn't bad though, even if it has been done before. It's just some action scenes that brings the movie down. Not that there are a lot of it, but the ones where there are fighting scenes are clearly done by amateurs. None of them look real and that's the minimum you could ask from an action thriller. Alexander Siddig isn't a bad actor but fighting scenes are clearly not his thing. The cast is okay without having Oscar winning performances. All in all it's an okay movie, there are for sure worse movies than this one, but it's just not great either.
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