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Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

FILM DETAILS
Certificate
TBC
Cast
Reese Witherspoon
Alan Arkin
Jake Gyllenhaal
Peter Sarsgaard
Meryl Streep
Omar Metwally.
Directors
Gavin Hood.
Screenwriters
Kelley Sane.
Running Time
120 minutes

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Rendition
Not as extraordinary as it should be


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Plot
An Egyptian US resident (Metwally) is abducted by the CIA, flown to North Africa and tortured for information on terrorism. Back home his distraught, pregnant wife (Witherspoon) tries to discover what has happened.


Review
Rendition

The latest multi-strand story to flit between continents - from Cape Town to Chicago to Washington, D. C. and the coyly unspecific “North Africa” - gives Gavin Hood, director of the Oscar-winning Tsotsi, his American debut, an ambitious thriller of terrorism and torture, political intrigue and personal anguish. Its subject
is ‘extraordinary rendition’, the practice of shipping terrorist suspects to countries untroubled by human rights, where ‘allies’ happily get medieval on people’s asses.

The ideological deck is immediately stacked with a ‘suspect’ who is blatantly innocent. Anwar El-Ibrahimi (Metwally) is a nice, thoroughly Americanised Egyptian; a respected engineer with a blonde soccer-mom wife (Reese Witherspoon). It might have been more ethically edgy if he’d had a beard or some clue what his tormentors were on about. But the nightmare that engulfs the El-Ibrahimis is just one layer of the interlocking plot. Jake Gyllenhaal’s CIA analyst Douglas, liaising on his first torture, drinks too much and has a crisis
of conscience. He’s a throwback to Graham Green’s disillusioned globe-trotters, but hardly likely as a post-9/11 CIA spook. Much of the time he’s an impassive observer who signals little of the internal struggle that eventually bursts out.

In fact, not much happens for ages, except that poor Anwar gets the hood-over-head and electrodes-to-testicles treatment at the hands of a big-time brute (Igal Naor). In D. C., Witherspoon’s Izzy handily has a concerned ex-boyfriend (Sarsgaard) who happens to be aide to a US Senator (Arkin), so the old flames can stage dramatic confrontations with Meryl Streep’s CIA anti-terrorist chief. But even these actors get little opportunity to shine. In North Africa, the policeman’s lovely daughter (Oukach) is doing a Romeo & Juliet with a crazy kid (Khouas) who’s a jihadi, which you know won’t go well.

Hood expends more energy achieving slick visuals than in weaving the strands together - a suspenseful last act doesn’t compensate for how flat the rest of the film is. Compared with documentary-style dramas by Winterbottom, Greengrass or Iñárritu, this plays phony, however well-intentioned its mission.


Verdict
Disappointingly dull given the explosive subject matter, this at least attempts to get a message into the mainstream. An extra star for effort rather than execution.


Reviewed by Angie Errigo

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Your Reviews

Average user rating for Rendition
Empire Star Rating

Too slow and,well, boring, to be good

Looks great, but this film is such a bore. Really slow moving. The acting is fine. The dialogue is just dull (although I was watching this off the back of a David Mamet movie) ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by tysmuse at 00:11, 24 January 2010 | Report This Post


Not Dull

Not "dull" but "solid". It's not dramatic or overly emotional - but how else can a film on such an emotional subject put forward its argument without either being melodramatic or diluting the point? I found it thoroughly absorbing - even gripping in parts, and it made me think over my own views as I watched it. And the interweaving of scenes and plots at the end was very satisfying. Common Empire - surely four stars? ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Turtle at 21:37, 07 November 2008 | Report This Post


Great.

A great thriller on a hot topic. Brilliantly performed, directed and written. In reply to those who say that Witherspoon and Gyllenhaal were wasted, I say that's rubbish. They only had a small amount of screen time because it showed that the film was a team effort and not some 'big-ass' blockbuster affair where they had to cash in on their big stars to get views. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by t_bell at 14:31, 07 August 2008 | Report This Post


Rendition.

Excellent. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by nc_jj at 03:57, 10 March 2008 | Report This Post


great writing, directing & acting

I have to say I went into this film not expecting much given the rather dismissive review from Empire. But as so often in recent years they were totally wrong. I thought this was a great little film and I much prefered it to Eastern Promises which I watched immediately before (and enjoyed). I suspect that the reviewer brought their own baggage to the film having watched Tsotsi. Reference to Paul Greengrass seemed irrelevant to me, he's a great film-maker but he his work has no heart. Rendition h... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by jdormer at 10:26, 09 March 2008 | Report This Post


Very Slow-moving.

Boy, was this slow or what? I was very disappointed that they didn't use much of Jake Gyllenhaal and Reese Witherspoon, they are both great talents and they are wasted in this slow and dull movie. It took so long to get on with, the only exicting moment was the end and I was also disappointed with it. I don't rate it much, very boring and too long. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by joanna likes films at 09:52, 09 March 2008 | Report This Post


Poor film.

Near enough with the review Empire. For a film with a subject such as it has, it is tear inducingly dull. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by tallaght24 at 07:22, 04 March 2008 | Report This Post


i really wanted to like this film more as it has one of my lust objects reese witherspoon in it, shes not really in it very muchand isnt really gyven much of a character just sitting around looking pregnant and anguished. jake also gets to do much the same minus the pregnancy of course! later on though he becomes the films moral mouthpiece questioning the validity of torture after all if some one is running electric current throu... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by quizkid at 11:57, 07 November 2007 | Report This Post


RE: Rendition

IERS ABOUND  The aspect that most disappointed me was the one-sided simplicity of the film’s argument. The terrorist bomb explosion, and the anger of the extremists was placed only to further criticise America by showing it as the product of their actions- and in the most obvious way- by making it a personal tragedy. There is nothing, save perhaps Gyllenhaal’s moral indecision, to give any suggestion as to why characters like Meryll Streep operate in the way that they do. Streep is shown... More

Posted by ThismonkeyhasRAGE at 20:12, 05 November 2007 | Report This Post


RE: Rendition

You watched a different film to me...im all for drama if it's done with conviction.  Fast paced drama - not drama that moves at a snails pace where anybody hardly says anything... ... More

Posted by theoriginalcynic at 18:56, 05 November 2007 | Report This Post


RE: Rendition

I have to disagree with most of the reviewers who accuse Rendetion of being dull and bland. It isn`t supposed to be an action thriller but instead a political drama about how the US policy of extraditing without trial terror suspects (and lets be honest here torturing those unwilling to talk and give them the answers they want) can go badly wrongly if they may have the wrong guy or girl. Is that a justifiable infringement on a persons human rights to be held and torture... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Cruisecontroller at 13:57, 05 November 2007 | Report This Post


RE: Rendition

Slow,boring drivel... Wtherspoon and Gyllenhaal are criminally wasted - he says about three words (ok thats an exageration) but it's not far off...make them work for there millions I say.  The director actually fell asleep while making this that's why the scenes never end... ... More

Posted by theoriginalcynic at 17:24, 03 November 2007 | Report This Post


RE: Rendition

I thought it was quite good if youd seen a rubbish film first, id just watched the kingdom and next to that it wasnt really up to much. I was very disappointed in Peter Sarsgaards character he deserved a bigger part, probably would have made the film abit more powerful. ... More

Posted by haylzbella at 13:21, 03 November 2007 | Report This Post


RE: Dull?

Totally pointless.   The film basically ran two stories side by side, each of which, I'm afraid failed to hold my attention or illicit any sympathy/empathy or any other sort of emotion from myself, and kept them running parallel until the very end.  There was potential for a link between the two stories, i.e   SPOILER!     that our man, Anwar, being interrogated, actually had something to do with the suicide bombing due to phonecalls made to his mobile.... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Sway at 20:41, 31 October 2007 | Report This Post


RE: Dull?

I didn't think this was dull, nor did anyone I watched it with, it kept us interested all the way through, however I was disappointed by it, and I think it's because I needed more. I thought both story lines were developing very well my problem with it was that in the end they didn't have any link whatsoever and one storyline became completely pointless to the other. OK so the link is there at the begining but the stories go off in different directions and never join again. I thought t... More

Posted by Marvel_79 at 11:25, 29 October 2007 | Report This Post


Dull?

I'm not sure what was supposed to be dull about this one. The great script? Top performances (Gyllenhaal aside, maybe)? Some moving and thought-provoking scenes? Admittedly, it doesn't zip through the running time on an adrenalin buzz but the build-ups and reveals, the realism (Arkin, Streep and Sarsgaard on fine form) and motives of all involved are interesting enough to have had me fully engaged throughout. Even Witherspoon's, "Just tell me he's ok", scream was bearable, where it had... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by thechair at 12:28, 26 October 2007 | Report This Post


Dull?

I'm not sure what was supposed to be dull about this one. The great script? Top performances (Gyllenhaal aside, maybe)? Some moving and thought-provoking scenes? Admittedly, it doesn't zip through the running time on an adrenalin buzz but the build-ups and reveals, the realism (Arkin, Streep and Sarsgaard on fine form) and motives of all involved are interesting enough to have had me fully engaged throughout. Even Witherspoon's, "Just tell me he's ok", scream was bearable, where it had... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by thechair at 12:27, 26 October 2007 | Report This Post


A wonderful cast cant save this boring and gutless film

I was really looking forward to Renditon..and boy did it let me down or what!!!. A great cast...but no conviction. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by SMP33 at 10:09, 25 October 2007 | Report This Post


RE: Rendition

Kind of walked out of this thinking "what was the point?".  I didn't learn anything as the film didn't really shed any light on any particular issue in any depth.  Also, despite having such a 'name' cast, they all have surprisingly little screen time and virtually none together save for Witherspoon and Saarsgard which is surprising.  Strangely though, I don't think it was a bad film.  It was all just a bit average. ... More

Posted by Gazdance at 01:21, 25 October 2007 | Report This Post


RE: Rendition

L: Kilo_T_Mortal L: frankj /i] is credited with a comment of "ntess ads for the film. Yet the word doesn't appear anywhere in the review, which by contrast describes the film as "disappointingly dull". Can someone explain this?/quote] Film posters don't like to include things like "disappointingly dull" it puts people off seeing it. confused27-thumb.gif] I think you've misunderstood my point - why are they allowed to publicise the film by nge from Empire? Fai... More

Posted by frankj at 18:33, 22 October 2007 | Report This Post


RE: Rendition

L: frankj /i] is credited with a comment of "ntess ads for the film. Yet the word doesn't appear anywhere in the review, which by contrast describes the film as "disappointingly dull". Can someone explain this?/quote]   Film posters don't like to include things like "disappointingly dull" it puts people off seeing it. ... More

Posted by Kilo_T_Mortal at 17:20, 22 October 2007 | Report This Post


RE: worthy but dull

Much like syriana, what should have been a great timely film of a searing subject matter instead turns uninvolving mostly due to the lacklustre script and underwritten characters. Theres a great cast here who arent served well at all by a subject that should be explored at greater depth with more exchanges between the characters involved. Only in the second hour of the film does it threaten to explode into life and it leads to a decent if predictable conclusion which is given its power by a nic... More

Posted by MartinBlank76 at 13:46, 22 October 2007 | Report This Post


RE: worthy but dull

Great cast, contentious subject matter, hot director. What could possibly go wrong? Well, although this isn't a bad film per se, it is surprisingly dull. This is best typified by Gyllenhaal's character who spends most of the film just standing on the sidelines observing. It's only in the last half hour or so that he galvanises himself to actually get up and do something. Likewise Witherspoon has very little to do other than stand around looking morose.   I like the time-slip slei... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by RJNeb2 at 00:45, 22 October 2007 | Report This Post


worthy but dull

Rendition may be about a politically sensitive subject, and have a great cast, but the whole execution is rather dull. The supposed "twist" that one review (Total Film) is complimenting as one that makes you 'gasp', is just a blip on a film that is totally flat, and much less than engaging. I only give it 3 stars because of the subject matter, ( normally it would deserve 2) ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by moviemaniac2 at 21:38, 21 October 2007 | Report This Post


RE: Rendition

i enjoyed the film a lot, especially having the seen the incredibly "hollywood" take on similiar events (US foreign policy) in last months 'the kingdom'. gylenhaal was strong, streep her usual reliable self and even reese witherspoon ( who usually i can not stand) was bearable, but special mention has to go to peter sarsgaard in yet another strong support role (surely this man is the best supporting actor currently working in hollywood) and omar metwally as the c.i.a's ''victim'. the narratvie ... More

Posted by adambatman82 at 19:50, 21 October 2007 | Report This Post


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