Rendition is a powerful and subtle drama that explores what happens when democratic governments keep secrets-not only from the people who vote them into power-but also from themselves.
The title of the movie refers to a practice of “extraordinary rendition” in which a suspected terrorist can be apprehended, held and questioned without an arrest warrant, while denying the access to a lawyer.
Academy Award-winner Reese Witherspoon leads an all-star cast in this forceful and emotional drama about a man who is abducted during a stopover in Washington D.C. on his way home from a chemical engineering conference in South Africa.
Witherspoon’s performance is subdued and powerful. The fear and grief of her pregnant mother character comes off of the screen in waves and assaults the viewer like a physical force, particularly when she confronts Meryl Streep’s unfeeling and uncaring CIA Director.
Likewise, the fear and confusion felt by newcomer Omar Metwally’s character, Anwar El-Ibrahimi- husband to Witherspoon’s Isabella-is intense.
The scenes where El-Ibrahimi is locked is his tiny cell alone demonstrates Metwally’s wide acting range and evokes sympathy from the audience. The torture scenes are realistic, powerful and slightly disturbing to watch, but without them the movie would lose much of its power and dramatic punch.
The movie’s secondary storyline is equally powerful. The movie also follows the romance of a young Arab couple that slowly becomes submerged in the world of radical Islam. The movie shows how torture and terrorism are two sides of the same coin. They serve no purpose, but to destroy innocent lives.
The only negative aspect of Rendition was a confusing twist in the narrative at the end of the film, in which the story suddenly jumps back to the suicide bombing which is the catalyst for the events of the movie. Despite this moment of confusion, Rendition is an excellent and entertaining film that strongly hints at Oscar recognition for both Witherspoon and Metwally.
This movie, the Jamie Foxx action film, The Kingdom and the forthcoming Tom Cruise drama, Lions for Lambs, are part of a spate of terrorism movies this year and it will be interesting to see which one will receive the most recognition-and by extension, the most Oscars.