Sometimes, when you want to get away from it all, you head to the cinema and escape into a fantasy world. But once in a while, you come across a film that gets too close to reality for comfort. “Rendition” is one such movie – featuring a stellar cast of Academy Award winners, it is an excellent if profoundly disturbing portrait of torture in our world today.
The only quibble I have with the movie is that you don’t often find CIA officers – even those on their first assignments – suffering pangs of conscience in real life when confronted with gruesome torture. But then again, what do I know: there must be the odd CIA officer around with a conscience – which would make him/her, well, kinda odd.
Rendition is about the United States’ practice of exporting terror suspects to “friendly nations” – and even not-so-friendly nations like Syria – who would gladly do the torturing by proxy, hidden from public scrutiny. (The movie itself doesn’t specify in which Middle-Eastern country the story is set.) This enables the US adminstration to say, as Meryl Streep’s character (the CIA boss) insists indignantly, “America does not torture!” Yes, and I am Tiger Woods.
The twist at the end got a bit confusing: you had to try and connect the different time sequences of the parallel sub-plots from the present to the past and back. Perhaps a bit too clever.
That said, this film is so thought-provoking that I found myself with only half a dozen other patrons at the cineplex last night. Typical of Malaysians, I suppose, who like their cinematic action fast and furious or soppy and romantic and enchanting or whatever… as long as it bears no resemblance to reality!
“Rendition” is a damning indictment of torture and detention without trial. There is no attempt to preach about the evils of torture, which paradoxically makes the movie even more powerful. Instead, you get a glimpse into the hidden world of dungeons and torture – and then you decide whether you think torture (or whatever they call it) is acceptable. Catch this movie if you can.
Check out Robert Fisk’s review:
Warning… this film could make you angry
By Robert Fisk
11/05/07 “The Independent” — – At university, we male students used to say that it was impossible to take a beautiful young woman to the cinema and concentrate on the film. But in Canada, I’ve at last proved this to be untrue. Familiar with the Middle East and its abuses – and with the vicious policies of George Bush – we both sat absorbed by Rendition, Gavin Hood’s powerful, appalling testimony of the torture of a “terrorist suspect” in an unidentified Arab capital after he was shipped there by CIA thugs in Washington. Read more