Monday, 22 October 2012

FILM: Rendition (6/10)

Why did I watch it?
I remember thinking that this film looked worth watching when it came out at the cinema. I was interested in the concept of extraordinary rendition and how it could happen. Anyway, five years later I finally got around to watching it.

What's it all about?
As the title suggests, its all about the controversial CIA practice of moving terror suspects to countries other than the US for interrogation purposes. Jake Gyllenhaal plays a CIA analyst caught up in the rendition of an Egyptian American chemical engineer (same profession as me!) Anwar to a North African country and the hands of the local police chief. At the same time Reese Witherspoon plays the suspects wife, desperately trying to track down her husbands whereabouts after he seemingly disappears during a flight home. Meryl Streep turns up as Gyllenhaal's boss.

Should you watch it?
Inevitably Rendition poses some questions about the justification of rendition and its breaching of human rights. The film doesn't really answer them either way, especially considering the ambiguous ending. If the screenplay was intending to make a specific point I think I missed it, although if it was being delivered by Gyllenhaal that is hardly surprising. His character is tepid, and that's being kind and seems pretty nonplussed with everything from the off so it was difficult to notice any change in his character after witnessing rendition first hand.
At the other end, Witherspoon fares slightly better with her performance as the desperate wife. Screeching aside, it was beneficial to see the impact of rendition and difficulties in finding information from the point of view of the family.
To give the screenplay some credit, the intertwining stories of the rendition and the local terrorist cell does create some tension which moves the film along.

A fairly run of the mill political thriller with some intriguing plotlines.

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