Directed by Gavin Hood.
Written by Kelley Sane.
Starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Reese Witherspoon, Peter Sarsgaard and
Release Year: 2007
Review Date: 10/16/07
The setup for "Rendition" is quite
intriguing--an Egyptian man, a Green Card holder, who has been
living in the US for 20 years, Anwar El-Ibrahimi (Omar Metwally), is
snatched from an airport near Washington by...our own government!
As he is suspected of being a terrorist following a suicide bombing
somewhere in North Africa, Anwar is transported to a prison
somewhere overseas where he gets tortured and interrogated because
our government thinks he has knowledge behind the bombing.
But, we know from the onset that he DOESN'T have this knowledge, so
what are we going to do?
Directed by Gavin Hood (he did
"Tsotsi" a couple of
years ago), this film seems to have everything going for it: hot
director, hot topic, hot cast members like Jake Gyllenhaal and Reese
Witherspoon...but, for some reason, after the smoke clears and we
get down to the business of mystery, bombing suspects, water torture
and the like, the movie somehow loses steam all the way until its
reasonably-cool ending wraps things up. I saw this for free
tonight and I think that folks in my audience never really seemed on
edge, because there isn't anything edge-worthy; Witherspoon fans
didn't really seem to be that enthralled by her performance, because
it was fairly weak; Meryl Streep shows up as the CIA director who
authorizes the "rendition" (snatch/torture operation), but she is
somewhat uninteresting, given that it's Meryl Streep; there is a
subplot of a romance between two people that was really poorly done,
but you know it has relevance to the plot so you have to stay on
your toes with that; the coolest character in the movie, the foreign
prison head who conducts the torture of Anwar (played by Yigal Naor),
is also the most underutilized.
So, "Rendition" has this multicultural,
spanning-the-globe, action-everywhere feeling (like a
example), but none of the separate pieces gets you all that fired
up. And, there you sit, waiting for one piece of it to really
get you jazzed up...but, from what I could tell, it didn't come for
me AND it didn't come for our audience. I think that many
people left happy, but I left feeling like there was cash on the
table that the filmmakers left out there, since there are holes in
the terrorist evidence on Anwar, there's a shadiness to the
Gyllenhaal character and his girlfriend/love interest that is never
explained, it seems like everyone has a Latin housekeeper and I
still wish that someone could have explained why the bald torture
guy/badass had a fucked-up right hand.
Given all of that, "Rendition" is still a
very watchable and occasionally funny movie. It's just that
there's plenty of untapped potential that left me hangin'.
Don't need to see this puppy again, that's for sure!
Comments? Drop me a line at
Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard