The first sign that things are about to go radically wrong is Michael Pearce
’s “Encounter” is a rattle. A small thrumming, really, the kind that an ordinary man in an ordinary motel might not notice. But Riz Ahmed
’s Malik Khan isn’t an ordinary man — the intense actor has built his career on grand scale alarmists, aspirants, and losers, the kind of weary-eyed guys who lie awake in bed waiting for their morning alarm — so the former Marine not only hears the buzz, he leaps into action. With military precision, he seizes a Bible
from the nightstand and — splat! — squashes a wasp.
One insect down. Ten quintillion to go.
No one else at the motel is on alert for an unusually aggressive infestation. Malik’s as-yet-unknown intel is that some time not too long ago, a small meteorite pinged onto the earth. This went ignored by everyone but a few barking dogs.