Movie Review
Rendition poster
By Craig Younkin     Published October 22, 2007
US Release: October 19, 2007

Directed by: Gavin Hood
Starring: Reese Witherspoon , Jake Gyllenhaal , Meryl Streep , Alan Arkin

Running Time: 120 minutes
Domestic Box Office: $9,794,000
Were it not for a fantastic cast, it would probably be a complete waste of time.
"Rendition," the new movie by director Gavin Hood (Tsotsi), is a bore, plain and simple. Reese Witherspoon plays Isabella El-Ibrahimi, the American wife of an Egyptian-born chemical engineer who gets the shock of her life when he winds up being arrested on a flight for being a suspected terrorist. In Washington, CIA official Corrine Whitman (Meryl Streep) comes across intelligence that he recieved a cell-phone call from a terrorist responsible for an attack carried out in North Africa. She orders him to a secret detention center outside of the U.S where CIA analyst Douglas Freeman (Jake Gyllenhaal) is told to observe the man's interrogation by the local officials and report back to her.

Only when Freeman sees the "by any means neccessary" approach being taken in getting the information out, Freeman begins to voice concerns, even going as far as saying that the man may in fact be innocent. The complaints fall on deaf ears however. While all this is going on, Isabella has taken a flight to Washington and sought the help of an old boyfriend (Peter Sarsgaard), who is now an aid to a U.S Senator (Alan Arkin), in order to get her husband released.

"Rendition" refers to the process by which a terror suspect is interrogated. It was actually started under Clinton. I tell you this primarily because the facts are far more interesting than anything being portrayed in this movie. There are no surprises. The movie wants to let us know that torture does exist, politicians are incredibly hypocritical when it comes to that point, and that there are Muslims who are angry revolutionaries. Just in case you live under a rock, none of this is particularly shocking.

This movie neither makes provocative points or earns sympathy or respect for the characters it portrays. They are all one-dimensional and are only there to fill plot requirements rather than come through as actual human beings. Good actors like Meryl Streep, Reese Witherspoon, Jake Gyllenhaal, Peter Sarsgaard, and Alan Arkin are wasted, going through the motions of the plot, never being allowed to show any depth in their characters.

Hollywood every once in a while will make a movie that challenges the ideas behind the war on terror, just "Rendition" is not one of those movies. It sets out to shock us with things we already know and it fumbles the emotions involved by lifting the focus away from the characters. Were it not for a fantastic cast, it would probably be a complete waste of time.
Craig's Grade: C
Craig's Overall Grading: 340 graded movies
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