Saturday, July 17, 2010


IMDB Review by flechette from United Kingdom

The film tackles the here and now horror of "rendition" with a multi-cast trans-global account of all involved. No-one gets off lightly because we see the blindness of the players as they carve out their own slice of the worldwide game piling hatred and misery on their "enemies" and themselves in equal measure.

The interplay between the sympathetic Senator's Aide (played in scintillating style by Peter Sarsgaard) and the real Washington power-mongers is electrifying. Meanwhile out in the field, new CIA man (Jake Gyllenhaal) goes through a sea change in his attitude to the USA's new found cosiness with torture. Sudden though his rejection of what he initially tacitly condoned is, one has to ask why on earth would anyone who calls him or herself civilized stand and watch anyone be humiliated and abused in this way? The film has few heroes - perhaps Gyllenhaal's flawed and vacillating CIA man is the exception and a necessary indulgence to make the film offer a sliver of hope.

The sad fact of course is that this film isn't fiction at all, but a wake up call to those with a shred of decency left in them. The awful truth is that we in the UK and USA have lost the moral plot and this film shows how low we are prepared to go. All this in the name of freedom! There's a wonderful line in the script that says that torture is a sure way to swell the numbers of our enemies. This is already happening in real life and we should listen to the message that this film delivers and start using our might and money much more intelligently!! The message seems to be that any of us who claim that rendition, torture and the abuse of basic human rights are necessary to protect our way of life are as wrong-headed and stultifyingly stupid as the Jihadists and suicide bombers.

All praise to the sensibilities of a talented South African director with a eye on the gross unfairness of how power is exercised, and a cast of principled mainstream actors from the US and beyond. Oh, and by the way, the film has a sting in its tail with the ending a clever and thought provoking surprise (which I won't give away).

I saw the film in an early London preview so it has not yet been widely written up but I'm glad to say that the tide of less than glowing reviews seems to be turning. The BBC review has been very strongly in support and they (and I) suspect that much of the negative comments come from those who see the world through the simple specs of Hollywood - where the good guys and the bad guys are cardboard cut-outs. Hence the reason that many of the truly great films of the year are increasingly indie and/or non-US pix.

IMDB Rating 6.9/10

Sourav Bhattacharya

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