Rendition (2007)

Rendition is a drama that looks at the unfair, and questionably legal, practices involving the detainees at Guatanamo Bay. It stars Reese Witherspoon, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Omar Metwally.

Isabella (Witherspoon) and Anwar (Metwally) are the typical American family with one child. One day, Anwar doesn't return from his business trip in "North Africa" (more on that in a bit). Next thing we know, Anwar is unofficially "lost," the U.S. Government knows nothing of his whereabouts, and his wife figures out that he got on the plane, but never off (sounds like some luggage). She turns to some government contacts for help. In the meantime, much of the film shows the torture tactics that undoubtedly go on at Gitmo, much of it performed by a junior agent, Douglas Freeman (Gyllenhaal).

At least to this reviewer, Rendition had much potential but really just fizzles like last year's pop rocks. Rather than an intelligent thriller that asks the question of why does our government treat people like this, and could this not happen to any of us, we end up with a front row seat for too much torture and not enough thought. While any good horror director knows that the suggestion of the monster has far more impact than some guy running around with fake blood and a rubber knife, this lesson could have been learned here: We simply see too much of the torture, and it starts to lose its impact. On top of that, I felt like it was being dumbed down every time they flashed "North Africa" as a setting on the bottom of the screen like it was the sister country to South Africa. Seriously, were we in Egypt, Libya, Algeria, Tunisia or Morocco? Or were we more interested in international ticket sales than making a good film for American audiences?

On top of all of this, we end on a flat, and less than settled, note. It's never completely clear if Anwar is a terrorist or not, and therefore the film loses its impact. If the point of the film is that there are many atrocities inflicted on innocent folks at Gitmo (which I think it is), then we should have made it clear that the guy is not a terrorist rather than having us wonder if maybe with just a little more "encouragement" he would have cracked and given us the phone number to Osama Bin Laden's condo cave. As it stands, I just didn't enjoy this rendition of Rendition, despite a more mature role for Reese Witherspoon.

Overall Grade: C

Reviewed by Jonas

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