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This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

Love & Torture Jeopardize Democracy

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Plot Overview

The scene is set with a dramatic start worthy of a James Patterson novel:

Kaboom!The bomb went off without warning.

I can't recall the sound of the blast that destroyed the driver, the truck, and the two other passengers. But I can still smell the cordite and the burning diesel.

And I can still feel the aftershock of the invisible fist that belted me with full force— (44)

pencilFive ½-month rookie CIA analyst Douglas Freeman (Jake Gyllenhaal,) a “pencil-pusher,” shows up on station shaken from the stir in yonder market and must take over field office responsi­bilities (“We're spread thin”) from his fellow passenger field agent William Dixon (David Fabrizio,) a “knuckle-dragger” who wasn't so lucky. His first assignment is to observe the enhanced inter­rogation of suspected bomb-maker, Egyptian-born American chemical engineer Anwar El-Ibrahimi (Omar Metwally) who'd been receiving phone calls vaguely linked by NSA to terrorist Rashid Salimi whose bombs had lately gotten stronger. It's a shot in the dark under a national security policy known as extra­ordinary rendition instigated under Clinton, which has now got out of hand. Poor forlorn Anwar wonders what­ever happened to his human rights.

loversThe other naïve one in this melodrama is fatuous Fatima Fawal (Zineb Oukach) who thinks she has the love of her secret boy­friend Khalid El-Emin (Moa Khouas.) He butters her up with a facility rivaling that of Clinton, whose scheming is old as the hills. Her big shot father Abasi Fawal (Yigal Naor) has other plans (“He has chosen someone for me.”) He's a hard guy over­seeing the inter­ro­gation of Anwar.


card playersThis vengeful action lends itself to comparison with one of Kenny Rogers's songs concerning a chance encounter with “The Gambler” on a train bound for nowhere. He offered his fellow passenger the advice that “the secret to surviving is knowing what to throw away and knowing what to keep.” The refrain goes:

You've got to know when to hold 'em, Know when to fold 'em, Know when to walk away, Know when to run. You never count your money when you're sittin' at the table. There'll be time enough for countin' when the dealin's done.

This wisdom of the gambling man's repertoire is old as the hills and was passed on by a raconteur, Agur in Proverbs 30:1, whose four meta­phors offered the same life advice as did Rogers's Gambler. That we find in, (Prov. 30:29-31) “There be three things which go well, yea, four are comely in going: A lion which is strongest among beasts, and turneth not away for any; A greyhound; an he goat also; and a king, against whom there is no rising up.”

We have Agur's “lion which is strongest among beasts, and turneth not away for any,” and we have Rogers's “know[ing] when to hold 'em.” A discounted pencil-pusher still holds the pen that's mightier than the sword. If he could fenagle the Minister of Defence into signing the prisoner's release forms, he might be able to spring the hapless chump from the hoosegow … if he is clever enough.

We have Agur's “king, against whom there is no rising up,” and we have Rogers's “Know[ing] when to fold 'em.” A king who knows when to give in to his subjects doesn't experience any uprising. Anwar's American wife Isabella (Reese Witherspoon) proceeds to Washington to call in a favor from her friend from college Alan Smith (Peter Sarsgaard) who's now an aide to Senator Hawkins (Alan Arkin.) Smith knew Anwar to be a stand-up guy back then and he hasn't changed; he's no terrorist. Senator Hawkins, how­ever, explains the reality of occupational suicide in the election cycle if he were to be perceived as a friend of a terrorist. Count him out.

dwarf goatWe have Agur's “he goat also” and we have Rogers's “Know[ing] when to walk away.” When presented with street clothes and an open prison door, Anwar could well disbelieve this unaccounted-for good fortune. He wouldn't be the first prisoner shot trying to escape. And yet if it's legit the window of opportunity won't stay open long, so he should leave while he can.

We have Agur's “greyhound” and Rogers's “Know[ing] when to run.” Fatima knows to run when the police bust their protest. Does she know to run when she discovers Khalid's designs?

The gambler gave the advice:

You never count your money when you're sittin' at the table.
There'll be time enough for countin' when the dealin's done.

Wait for the final reveal before analyzing this picture.

Production Values

APPROVEDsleeping woman” (2007) was directed by Gavin Hood. It was written by Kelley Sane. It stars Reese Wither­spoon, Jake Gyllenhaal and Peter Sarsgaard. It also features J.K. Simmons, Yigal Naor and Meryl Streep. The cast is old hands tackling non-demanding roles uniformly well. Streep has a supporting role as an ice queen responsible for authorizing the torture. It didn't soften her mood to be awakened at 2:00 a.m. Wither­spoon displayed a good range.

crucifiedMPAA rated it R for torture/violence and language. Realistically depicted torture included water boarding, electro-shock and deprivation. Violence was a bomb, a police raid and a forcible abduction. Bad language included one utterance of [g.d.] under duress. It is what it is.

This film employed some creative cinematography that elevated it above a droll drama; it was, however, based on true events. Wish it were not so. Runtime is 2 hours.

Review Conclusion w/a Christian's Recommendation

Here's a movie that touts friendship and family values while denigrating Islam, at least in its extreme form. It's a poser causing one to think about usefulness of methodology and adherence to the Constitution. Since America was founded by Christians one might expect her to adhere to the promises in her Constitution just as the Christian God delights to keep his promises. Allah of the Muslim persuasion is capricious doing what he pleases regardless, offering martyrdom as the only sure way to achieve Paradise. A jihadist lecture in the movie stresses this latter point. The characters were not well developed, but they didn't have to be. They sure spoke their minds. The film might make some people uneasy. The youth of the cast makes the spy business seem like game playing. Not a standard thriller but there are thrills enough. Should appeal to viewers of diverse political persuasions.

Movie Ratings

Action factor: Decent action scenes. Suitability For Children: Not Suitable for Children of Any Age. Special effects: Average special effects. Video Occasion: Better than watching TV. Suspense: A few suspenseful moments. Overall movie rating: Three and a half stars out of five.

Works Cited

Scripture is taken from the King James Version. Pub. 1611, rev. 1769. Software.

Patterson, James and Mark Sullivan. Private Games. Copyright © 2012 by James Patterson. New York: Vision, 2012 Print.

Rogers, Kenny. Songwriter Don Schlitz. “The Gambler.” Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Pub. LLC. Web.