Revolution #108, November 11, 2007

Check It Out: Rendition

From a reader

I urge everyone to go see the movie Rendition and take a skeptical friend. Roger Ebert called it a “terrifying, intelligent thriller.”

Rendition starts when a young man, a green card holder and engineer, who goes to South Africa for a conference, returns to the U.S, but is kidnapped by U.S. agents at the airport, handcuffed and hooded, and flown to his home country of Egypt to a torture dungeon. This fictional movie is based on fact. In 2005, when George Bush spoke publicly about the practice of rendition, he said, “in the post-9/11 world, the United States must make sure we protect our people and our friends from attack. And one way to do so is to arrest people and send them back to their country of origin with the promise that they won’t be tortured. That’s the promise we receive. This country does not believe in torture. We do believe in protecting ourselves.”

As Roger Ebert explained in his review, “This is being done in our name. People who are suspected for any reason, or no good reason, of being terrorists can be snatched from their lives and transported to another country to be held without charge and tortured for information. Because the torture is conducted by professionals in those countries, our officials can blandly state that ‘America does not torture’.”

The acting is great. Many times it is luminous. The screenwriting is crisp and the background well-researched. Each character has depth and inner life. The Romeo-and-Juliet-with-a-twist subplot hits the gut when it is revealed. Kudos to director Gavin Hood (next up for him is...Wolverine). The  characters in this movie: CIA agents, American Senators and their young aides, the engineer and his American wife and child, the Arab high school kids who become “martyrs” trained by Muslim Fundamentalists. All are portrayed with complexity, whirled together in the funnel of the U.S. war on terror.

How we change this whole situation, and whether we dare, is up to us.

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