Critic Reviews



Based on 28 critic reviews provided by
Nair likes to have fun even when her material is somber, and for this movie she deploys a rich palette and a multi-culti but mostly kitsch-free score that fuses old and new with a lovely Sufi devotional piece, and is peppered with Pakistani pop.
Village Voice
At times it's dense and sluggish, too much like a novel. But there is some exhilaration to be had.
The result inevitably pushes too hard at times and can't help but stray into melodrama, yet the film does an admirable job of transplanting the novel's thoughtful concerns into a fast-moving suspense context.
This might be the best week for The Reluctant Fundamentalist to open or the worst, but the timing doesn’t matter when the powder is damp.
Ticking-time-bomb suspense is not Nair’s forte, so she relies on Michael Andrews’s Middle East–inflected score to do most of the heavy lifting in the present-day scenes, which feel shapeless and perfunctory.
Although The Reluctant Fundamentalist raises some complicated questions, in the end, it doesn’t challenge that much.
Slant Magazine
The laziest sort of political cinema, full of straw men and finger-pointing, wrapped up in an awards-friendly bow by its beautiful cinematography and a manipulative world music-y score.
Kiefer Sutherland feels somewhat miscast as the mentor, but nowhere near as badly as Hudson is as the love interest. In all fairness, it’s a nightmare of a part, an artist (whose art is, as it turns out, is terrible) haunted by the recent death of her boyfriend, and seemingly unable to read basic human feelings and emotion. But Hudson doesn’t really help things, coming across more often than not as unintentionally funny.
The movie's failures are all the more unfortunate because they detract from its central and conspicuous success, the performance of Riz Ahmed in the title role. Mr. Ahmed turns the quicksilver quality of the book's internal monologue into a tour de force of his own creation. He's a bright star in a dim constellation.
By literalizing the idea of American military aggression and all that it implies Ms. Nair doesn’t just invest Mr. Hamid’s story with Hollywood-style beats, she also completely drains it of ambiguity.

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