Rendition is a thriller, released in 2007 to mixed reviews. It centres on a CIA analyst who begins to question his assignment after witnessing an unorthodox interrogation at a secret detention facility outside the US. The film is based on the true story of Khalid El-Masri who was mistaken for Khalid Al-Masri.

It features a cast of many big names: Jake Gyllenhaal, Reese Witherspoon, Peter Sarsgaard (who spends most of the film looking incredibly similar to Ewan McGregor), Meryl Streep and J.K. Simmons and is directed by Gavin Hood who is also responsible for ruining a fan favourite Marvel character’s origins in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. The performances of the above are not that bad and that is the highest compliment I can pay them, however the performance of Omar Metwally who plays the man mistaken for a terrorist is absolutely fantastic; he completely steals the show.

Jake Gyllenhaal’s character is very two dimensional. I like Gyllenhaal as an actor and when he turns it on he really does turn it on, but here in Rendition something is lacking. His character is poor and nothing can really bring him to life. Witherspoon’s character is just irritating from start to finish while Sarsgaard’s character seems useless. The heavyweights Simmons and Streep aren’t used nearly enough. The character development and characters in general need to be better written and are not well rounded or even that likeable.

Some of the torture scenes in which Anwar El-Ibrahimi is treated horrifically by the American government are when this film comes into its own. They are very well filmed and recreated and clearly a lot of research went into making those scenes authentic and they do, at times, become very hard to watch because we, as the audience, know that the victim is innocent.

My biggest problem with Rendition though is its genre. Thriller. Here’s a little piece of advice; you can’t call a film a thriller when it isn’t even thrilling in the slightest! A thriller, in my opinion, needs to have a mystery, it needs to have shocks and keep the audience on the edge of their seats. Rendition fails to do this majorly. There are parts of the film where it seems as though the director is trying to build up sympathy or the characters or try and give a subtle shock to the audience but it only plants the seeds for a plot twist and the seeds never really come to fruition.

When I sat down to watch the film I had read what it was about and was anticipating something very entertaining as I was impressed with the storyline and the cast but as the film grew on (from what was a very boring first half into a mediocre second) I soon came to realise that I was not watching the film I had hoped. Rendition was a let down; an anti-war film that never really takes off.

Having read around the film I know that it has its fans but I just can’t imagine myself wanting to watch it again.

My Rating: 4/10.

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