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 ...
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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.
A psychological study of operations desert shield and desert storm during the gulf war; through the eyes of a U.S marine sniper who struggles to cope with the possibility his girlfriend may be cheating on him back home.
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 C.I.A. 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, 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, rumored to have been involved with the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. In 2004, El-Masri was arrested and transferred to a "black" site in Afghanistan where he was interrogated, beaten, sexually abused, and tortured for five months before the C.I.A. released him, admitting that his capture and torture were a mistake. See more »
When Khalid and Fatima are preparing for a protest, an organizer gives instructions via a PA system. Shortly into the speech, he holds the microphone near his waist, yet the timbre and volume of the sound are the same as when speaking into it. See more »
Too many stereotypes, not enough passion to engage the audience
Reviewed at the World Premiere screening at Roy Thomson Hall, on Sept. 7, 2007 during the Toronto International Film Festival.
On the surface, this would seem to have everything going for it with a solid cast (veterans Witherspoon, Sarsgaard, Gyllenhaal, Streep, Arkin and new faces Metwally, Naor, Oukach, Khouas) a recent hot director (Gavin Hood, dir. of "Tsotsi", winner of the 2006 Oscar for Best Foreign Film) and a script on a current hot-button issue (the anti-terrorism law of extraordinary rendition which allows U.S. agents to transport suspected terrorists to off-shore sites where anti-torture laws do not apply).
Somehow each of the cast members, perhaps due to the number of major characters involved and thus the reduced screen time allowed for each, come across as superficial stereotypes - the distraught expectant mother, the ex-boyfriend who tries to help, the CIA agent with a conscience, the cold hearted CIA executive, the pragmatic senator, the torture victim, the secret police torturer, the torturer's daughter with a secret boyfriend, the boyfriend with a secret). You're not with any of the characters long enough to identify with them much and when it all gets tied up together in the end a bit too neatly you're just left feeling disappointed and cheated.
Early reviews seem to be mostly praising this but the friend whom I saw it with and another veteran TIFF goer that we see in various line-ups had the same sense of disappointment.
The film just seems too desperate to make it all relevant as it tries to inspire our shock at the wrongs being perpetrated in the name of the anti-terror wars but it mostly comes across as clichéd rather than natural. When the Gyllenhaal character finally builds up the will to act on his moral outrage you're just not convinced about how he's made this character arc as he has spent the first 3/4's of the film either stunned by the effects of a suicide bombing that takes place before his very eyes and then drinking himself into a stupor while occasionally taking time out for an illicit office romance or to bark an order to underlings. It seems Gyllenhaal is the protagonist we are meant to identify with but he is too weak-willed to inspire much audience sympathy. Witherspoon as the distraught expectant mother has more of an immediate draw on our heartstrings but doesn't kick off the expose on the U.S. side of the things which we are pulling for her to do by soliciting help from ex-boyfriend Sarsgaard (who works for Arkin's senator character) after her Egyptian-American husband goes mysteriously missing after a trans-Atlantic flight. There are at least a few moments of fireworks when Witherspoon at least briefly gets to confront the CIA exec played by Streep who is pulling the forced extradition strings behind the scenes, but a few seconds of confrontation doesn't make up for the 90 minutes of gradually increasing tedium that it takes to get there and we still have about 30 minutes to go in the plot after that highpoint. The subplot built around the head police torturer and his family in an un-named North African country is more engrossing and a neat twist is pulled off in that storyline but that wasn't enough to save the picture for us.
I had really been looking forward to this film but something just seemed to be missing in the way it pays off the different plot lines.
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