Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Thoughts on the film: Rendition

The other night the Beefcake and I watched Rendition, a star-studded film nobody watched in the theater. I had wanted to see it as soon as I saw the first preview but for some reason I never made it to the theater either. So I Netflixed it.

The story is supposed to be about an Egyptian man who lives in America and is abducted by the US government and shipped off to Africa to be tortured for what he may know about a terrorist while his wife tries to figure out what happened to him. Then there's the second story that's about a teenage Muslim girl who gets involved in the wrong crowd of Death to America type people while her father tries to find her in the city. Both stories had terrorists and torture and people looking for other people and that's how they were connected.

At first it seemed like this was about the Egyptian guy, then suddenly it was about the girl, and they never seemed to be the same story until the very end.

I liked a lot of things about this movie, but then the end came.


Let's talk about that ending. See, this whole movie the dad has been trying to find her daughter after a bomb went off in the middle of a square. But we know his daughter has been running around with a wannabe terrorist who has only seduced her to get to her old man. Can Daddy find his daughter before her boyfriend assassinates him? A worthy question filled with possibilities, and there is a moment right toward the conclusion where Dad is thiiiiis close to finding his daughter at the same time the boy is going to blow him up and ohhhh nooooooooo.....


Except then suddenly we find out the daughter has been dead all along. She died in the bomb blast at the beginning of the film.

That certainly does seem clever. Very Sixth Sense on paper. This whole time we've been following the girl out of time and didn't know it, and then suddenly we're supposed to realize she's already dead and her father can't find her because her body is blown to bits, not because she's running around with the boy. Her story is out of time with the rest of the stories in the film.

Except instead of going oooooooooooooooh cool! and feeling like you should have seen it coming, you're more like hey what? What just happened? I don't.... wait, did she already die? Was she not in the same time as everybody else? Oh. I guess. Or something.

I think the problem is, in The Sixth Sense there were clues, and you were following along with Bruce Willis so you failed to see the same clues he failed to see. You didn't feel tricked, you felt like you should have seen it coming. But in Rendition I just felt like they fooled me by letting me think the daughter was still alive. The whole time she was in a different time period than everybody else in the movie, which is something I never would have been able to guess because all the clues leading to that were the same clues that would lead to her just running around with a boy in the city. Which is why it wasn't an AHA! moment, it was a What the fuck? moment.

I figure that whole thing was very clear on the page, but in film form it felt like someone was very in love with their cleverness. And I'm not even sure why it was necessary for the story for us to be fooled in the first place. It really screwed up what could have been an otherwise cool movie.

1 comment:

  1. Everybody wants to have a twist ending these days. It irritates me. Just tell your damn story.

    The Black List recently came out. If you get ahold of the scripts again, I'd be interested in getting ahold of one of them. "Man of Cloth". Willing to trade for it. Thanks.


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