Rendition (2007)

(In theaters, October 2007) Let me say this again: Good intentions aren’t sufficient to make a good movie. I’m sure that Rendition had noble intentions at heart: show how the American government has come to support torture; show how someone becomes a terrorist; show how torture doesn’t work; show how terrorism backfires on the terrorists. But that’s really no excuse for the overlong mess that is the final film. In bits and pieces, the film sometimes succeeds: Jake Gylenhall’s character arc is compelling, Meryl Streep has a killer speech midway through and the parallels with the Maher Arar case are obvious. But the film would have been better had it focused on that particular triangle. As it is, showing the bomber, his girlfriend, her father, his sister and so on is just a pointless waste of time: it doesn’t strengthen the theme of the film, it makes everything feel even longer and the time-shift that occurs at the end of the film is a cheap trick that doesn’t really add anything else either. There’s a much better film struggling to get out of Rendition, and it’s sad to say that despite the good hearts of the filmmakers, the result just flops there and remains inert.

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