Starring Omar Metwally, Reese Whitherspoon, Jake Gyllenhaal, Meryl Streep
We went to see this movie tonight at our main cineplex. It was in one of the smaller theaters but it was packed, mostly with older people. The film is the story of an Egyptian man (Metwally) married to an American woman (Reese) who is taken off a plane and not seen since. Another case of “extraordinary rendition” where the United States government covertly detains people in the name of “national security” and secretly deports them to other countries to be interrogated and tortured. The movie twines around the story of what he undergoes, his wife’s fight to try to find him, the American agent’s involvement and his superiors, and the torturer’s own family troubles.
The plot is well developed and extremely sophisticated. I could see parallels to two real lives straight from the headlines; that of Maher Arar, the Canadian that was moved covertly to Syria for torture when he stopped in the US for a layover, and Mohammed Haneef, the Australian doctor accused of links with terror, both found innocent.Â I don’t want to say too much about the story because I feel that everyone should go see this movie, Muslim or non-Muslim, American or citizen of the world. In fact everyone NEEDS to see this movie.
I think this movie is amazing for many reasons. First, that it is a mainstream movie shown in regular theaters with star actors. Second, it shows the victims of extraordinary rendition as truly human victims instead of the usual propaganda machine that taints them as terrorists first, and humans last, or never. Third, it showed what the usual methods of torture are quite clearly. Many Americans may have seen a few of the pictures of Abu Ghuraib but nothing like this. Fourth, they showed that suicide bombers were not filthy animals who just want to kill for their 72 virgins or whatever. There are reasons behind what they do. And fifth, this movie showed how those who want to use the suicide bombers, exploit these reasons as well.
Being a Muslim, I thought I would be more disturbed by this movie or wish I hadn’t seen it. But I’m not. I want to see it again for the subtle nuances. I am more hopeful actually, because I pray that a lot more people see it and that it, first and foremost, touches their conscious and their hearts.
I recommend this movie for everyone to watch. A warning to Muslims though, there are some intimate scenes (for some reason they always have to put these in!) and there are scenes of nude men being tortured.
Watch it in the theater. The experience will be completely different from watching it on your TV in your home later on.
I give it ***** 5 stars out of 5.
I loved how he had no accent.
But no doubt there are some messed up things in the movie such as the whole ‘suicide bomber meeting’ that looks like someone going into a mosque, complete with taking off the shoes, saying salaam and sitting on carpets in front of an imam, listening to a khutbah and then yelling takbir again and again. (I thought the khutbah was very well done with the usual propoganda terrorists use, couched in ‘islamic terms’ (but wonder if non-muslims would recognize this) and wondered if they took it straight from some alqaeda video.)Â They also show some of the usual “jihadist” type images. But I THANK GOD for two things… not spouting any of that 72 virgins rhetoric and not showing them praying.
I also wish they had showed a little more happiness between the couple in the beginning, like a hug or a kiss or some type of affection. And when Reese says “you knew him” I wish she had said something like “we all went to college together, you knew him.”
I also thought during the movie that Meryl should have been a guy, those military type of guys that are the ones that perpetrate these crimes, but I do think she conveyed quite clearly the ‘status quo’ line of the gov’t.
Hmm and the mother.. I mean what was the point of having her in the movie, the least she could have done is have tears in her eyes and say to Reese “how can you say that, how can you even think it!” and be extremely upset.
Still those are tiny tiny things compared to the whole objective of the film.