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Dramatic Rendition

Published October 18, 2007 in Movie Reviews
By Fred Topel | Image property of New Line.
Rendition Poster Rendition
Rendition is a timely and dramatic film, definitely an issue movie but still a story you can follow. It is about the government's policy of detaining terror suspects without due process and it is very serious, but it's not so heavy handed that you can't just watch to find out what happens to these people.

Review: Rendition


Anwar El-Ibrahimi (Omar Metwaly) gets nabbed from the airport on the way home to see his wife Isabelle (Reese Witherspoon) and son. Meanwhile, CIA agent Douglas Freeman (Jake Gyllenhaal) survives a bombing that kills his partner, so he has to take over the investigation. Meanwhile, the terrorists' target is looking for his daughter, who ran off with her boyfriend instead of agreeing to her arranged marriage, but it doesn't distract him from torturing Anwar.

So, it's very relevant in terms of Guantanamo Bay. At the same time, it's just a personal story of unfortunate circumstance and you want to see Anwar get home to his adorable pregnant wife and precious tyke.

The big evidence here is cell phone calls, so blame Verizon for that. And beware, don't take any calls from unrecognized numbers. If a terrorist gets the wrong number, you're still screwed.

The various threads make Rendition a true ensemble piece, not a Witherspoon/Gyllenhaal vehicle. All the characters are directly involved, so it's not like Babel or Crash, but no one person is the star.



There's only one real moment of levity supplied by Gyllenhaal. If they could find the one opportunity, it might have helped to find a few more. You do have to remind the audience that this is real life, and even during horrible situations people use humor.

There are a few shades outside of the black and white innocents, idealists and bottom-line politicians. J.K. Simmons plays an interesting character early on. You think he's just a government dick but you soon find out that he's a human being just following orders. It's his boss who's the cold inhuman suit. That's two scenes though. Actually, I guess most of it is black and white.

Rendition is well made. Gavin Hood builds tension with parallel scenes. There is one twist I didn't see coming. The clues were well buried in the narrative.

This is the kind of movie I'm fine with. I don't seek out movies about political issues where horrible things happen so we can be aware of them. I don't mind seeing them either. They're just there and they do their thing.

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Fred Topel
Sources: Image property of New Line.
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