Based on Rendition, the latest film to fit the bill, this film genre is dead on arrival. Rendition tries (and believe me, it tries) to be a good film, but not even a powerhouse of a cast can save it. The movie must have looked great on paper, getting Oscar-celebrated names like Gyllenhaal, Witherspoon, Streep, and Arkin to fill the poster. But the immensely talented cast isn’t given enough to do, being provided with stiff words and tired actions to fill the dull film.
After conducting business in
Jeremy’s very pregnant wife Isabella (Witherspoon) starts her own investigation, trying to track down her missing husband. She gets closer to the truth with the help of an ex-boyfriend (Peter Sarsgaard) and his connection with a powerful senator (Arkin).
All the while, there is a boring subplot involving a young man who may have been involved with the bombing and his trysts with the daughter of the man officially in charge of doing the questioning (torture) of Jeremy.
The countless torture scenes drive the meaning of the film a little too hard. Rendition makes its point but it doesn’t keep attention.
I learned back in Reservoir Dogs that if you torture someone for long enough, they are going to tell you whatever you want to hear, and it’s no surprise when that happens in this film. Rendition does have a few good points. Gyllenhaal does well at hitting his so-depressed-that-I’m-watching-the-brutalization-so-I-must-drink mark. The film also has a remarkable little twist of an ending, in which I sat, genuinely shocked, aimlessly trying to piece it together in my head. But that is all but ruined when it is completely spoon-fed to you. If the intention of such films is to make audiences think and then realize and then empathize, don’t you suppose we’re capable of figuring it out on our own? C-