Inescapable (2012)

(On Cable TV, September 2013) There’s something admirable in trying to deliver a foreign political thriller on a low budget and that’s exactly what Ruba Nadda attempt with Inescapable, as a Canadian man goes back to his native Syria in order to find his missing adult daughter.  It soon turns out that she was there in order to investigate her father’s past, and that he had made a number of enemies before leaving.  Alexander Siddig stars as a man with a tumultuous past who has to get back in the covert operations mindset in order to find and free his daughter.  The surprise here is Marisa Tomei, surprisingly convincing as an aging Syrian woman bitterly helping her ex-fiancée against the multiple enemies he still has in Damascus.  Inescapable has a number of interesting elements, but it may not have the means to make them work effectively: despite the tangled web of allegiances and secrets shared by the film’s characters, the film takes forever to heat up, and ends without a satisfying coda.  For all of the film’s accomplishment in evoking a spy thriller set in Syria (despite being filmed in South Africa with Canadian money), Inescapable is a bit too bland to be interesting as more than a home-grown curiosity.  The action sequences are filmed without particular flair, and the stand-offs don’t have enough energy to resonate.  Some secrets look far-fetched (how long did the daughter spend with the diplomat?) while others don’t have much of an impact.  There’s little tension to the proceedings –it’s tough to even believe that the daughter is in danger, and the ending seems wrapped in mystery more than precipitated by the protagonist’s actions.  As much as world-aware Canadian efforts such as this one are to be applauded on general principle, Inescapable’s execution is a bit too ordinary to warrant much attention.

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