(detailed information about this entry from Wikipedia)
- For the British 2007 film starring Andy Serkis see Extraordinary Rendition (film)
Rendition is a 2007 drama film directed by Gavin Hood and starring Reese Witherspoon, Meryl Streep, Peter Sarsgaard, Alan Arkin, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Omar Metwally. It centers on the controversial CIA practice of extraordinary rendition, and is based on the true story of Khalid El-Masri who was mistaken for Khalid al-Masri. The movie also has similarities to the Canadian Maher Arar case. Arar (born 1970), a telecommunications engineer, lives in Canada, holding dual Syrian and Canadian citizenship. He was deported to Syria and tortured, in an apparent example of the United States policy of "extraordinary rendition".
In a suicide attack with an explosive belt in a town square in North Africa, a colleague of CIA analyst Douglas Freeman (Jake Gyllenhaal) and 18 other people are killed. The target was interrogator and torturer Abasi, but he is unharmed.
Egyptian-born Anwar El-Ibrahimi (Omar Metwally) lives in the US with his pregnant wife Isabella (Reese Witherspoon) and their young son. According to phone records the known terrorist Rashid has made a phone call to Anwar. Therefore he is suspected of being a terrorist too, and after returning to the US from a conference in South Africa, he is arrested and sent to a secret detention facility in North Africa (extraordinary rendition), near the location of the suicide attack depicted earlier. He is not allowed to make any phone calls and Isabella is not informed. She travels to Washington and in spite of denials learns that Anwar has been arrested. Much to her anger and despair, she does not find out where he is and what the charges are.
For lack of more experienced staff, Freeman is assigned the task of observing the interrogation of Anwar by Abasi. It is accompanied by torture. After Freeman briefly questions and tortures Anwar himself, he is convinced of Anwar's innocence. However, his boss insists that the detention continues, justifying such treatments as necessary to save thousands from becoming victims of terrorism. Eventually Anwar confesses to have advised on how to make more powerful bombs, and to have been promised $40,000 in return. However, Freeman believes it is a false confession.
Without consent of his superiors he orders Anwar's release and lets him escape through a clandestine trip by ship to Spain.
Another story line is shown in parallel, but at the end of the film it turns out that all this happened before the suicide attack: Abasi's daughter Fatima has run away from home with her boyfriend Khalid (Moa Khouas), whose brother died in Abasi's prison. Unknown to Fatima, Khalid is a terrorist. He is the one who carries out the suicide attack with Abasi as target. At the town square Fatima begs him not to do it, arguing that the target is her father. After removing the pin of his detonator he hesitates, and is therefore killed by the organizers of the attack. As a result he releases the handle of the detonator, and the bomb explodes, killing Fatima also.
The record of a phone call supposedly made by Rashid to Anwar is not explained in the film, although it is mentioned that phones are sometimes passed on from one person to another, and that in South Africa, while Anwar's phone was off, there had been a call to it from an unknown person.
For the scenes of Abasi's private life it is not always clear to which storyline they belong, that before or after the explosion. Abasi learns about Fatima's death only a week later.
Reviews for Rendition were mixed. At Rotten Tomatoes, it achieved a 47% Tomatometer from 140 reviews. And based on 33 reviews, the film averaged a score of 55 at Metacritic. Roger Ebert awarded the film four stars out of four, saying that, "Rendition is valuable and rare. As I wrote from Toronto: 'It is a movie about the theory and practice of two things: torture and personal responsibility. And it is wise about what is right, and what is wrong.'" In contrast, Peter Travers of Rolling Stone applauded the cast, but noted that the film was a "bust as a persuasive drama". Travers declared the film the year's Worst Anti-War Film on his list of the Worst Movies of 2007.
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