Rendition (15)

Directed by Gavin Hood, Written by Kelley Sane
On general release from 2nd November 2007

Reviewed by Colin Serjent

How can a film about such an emotive issue as rendition - the current political definition applying to the Americans flying terrorist suspects to foreign countries, where they can be tortured and held in captivity without the victim having recourse to any legal defence - have such a saccharine thread running throughout its plodding length? The answer is of course is because it was made by the movie moguls of Hollywood.

It beggars belief that eminent actors such as Meryl Streep, Jake Gyllenhaal, Alan Arkin and Reese Witherspoon can be persuaded to appear in this charade of a film, directed by Gavin Hood ('Tsotsi'). Money is the reason inevitably...who cares about principles or complete distortion of the facts?

Witherspoon plays the role of Isabella, the heavily pregnant wife of American-Egyptian Anwar (Omar Metwally), who is detained at the airport in Washington, after returning from a conference in South Africa.

Despite denying having any involvement in a suicide bombing in North Africa - which resulted in a CIA agent being killed - he is hauled off to Africa, where he is brutally tortured.

Isabella, in trying to locate the whereabouts of Anwar, enlists the help of an old flame Alan (Peter Sarsgaard), who works for Senator Hawkins (Arkin). But he hits a stone wall in his endeavours, notably in trying to get answers about Anwar from steely CIA chief Corrine Whitman (Streep).

The most risible part of the movie is that involving Douglas (Gyllenhaal), who oversees the questioning and torture of Anwar in relation to the car bombing. Feeling sympathy for him - as most CIA agents do for suspected Islamic radicals! - he spirits him away to be reunited with his wife in the final scene of this pathetic production, which had me reaching for a sick bag.

Don't waste money on seeing this film - hire 'The Battle Of Algiers' (1966) instead, a masterful film directed by Gillo Pontecorva, about the events that took place during the Algerian war with the French between 1954-1962. It touches on many of the themes so woefully misinterpreted in Rendition.

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