Friday, May 9, 2008

Rendition: A Movie Review

I just finished watching Rendition starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Reese Witherspoon, Peter Sarsgaard, Alan Arkin and Meryl Streep. Liberal much? You bet! First off, I have to admit that this movie is very entertaining. It is gripping, realistic, gritty and the little trick at the end is just awesome.

The film begins by juxtaposing a terrorist attack gone bad (aimed at assassinating a government official in “some North African nation” with the abduction of an Arab-looking gentleman by the CIA while he is making a connecting flight. He is coming back home to his loving family in Chicago (from some shady conference in South Africa). Soon we are watching the U.S. government jet the guy off to “some North African nation” for extreme interrogation. Meanwhile, his wife pulls some strings with one of her old friends who works for a senator. There’s also a subplot concerning the daughter of the afore-mentioned North African government official. It’s a wild ride…

The Good: This film got down and dirty with Islamic terrorists, even going so far as to depict (accurately) what goes on at a jihadist preaching service (the Zionists and Crusaders will be destroyed, Allah will ask you what you have done with the one weapon he has given you—your body, you will only get into heaven if you die as a martyr, etc.). Simply amazing. Never seen that in a movie before. The terrorists are bad guys that shoot the suicide bomber if he tries to back out (which he does). This makes him release his bomb trigger. They do all of this even when they could have easily just shot their target.

The Bad: It’s VERY obvious that the point of this film (and why it attracted the most liberal of the liberal actors) is that the U.S. generally pulls this sort of stunt about 50 times a day. They target a nice, respectable Arab-looking American guy, grab him off the street, fly him to "some foreign place" and torture the fool out of him. This part was very graphic and included the now-famous technique of water-boarding (also a film first for me) and electric shock torture. Lots of people in the chain of command don’t really care if he is innocent or not—better to be sure by just endlessly torturing him (cause that's how they roll in the Bush admin).

Here are a few fun facts about the innocent suspect: 1. He is an Egyptian national with no U.S. citizenship. Sure, he’s lived in America for the past 20 years and is married to Reese Witherspoon, but he’s not technically an American. 2. He is a chemical expert with bomb-making experience, albeit most of this experience came as a result of working with the ATF a few years back. 3. He goes to a lot of strange conferences in foreign countries like South Africa. 4. He gets a lot of strange phone calls from folks in Egypt, some with known terrorist links.

Wow, I can’t imagine a more innocent character than that! I’m tempted to call the NSA about the guy just from watching the movie, and I know he’s innocent! So, let me get this straight—we’re supposed to want our government to ignore folks like this? ‘Fraid not. Really, how many of these guys exist in the U.S. population—something like 50,000 or so I bet—how about zero. Well, okay two—I’ve grant you two guys that fit this description. And that’s being generous. By the way, this guy does make it home, so see? No harm done.

I suppose the director might argue that he showed “both sides,” whatever that means. And, as far as it goes, I guess he did. After all, moral ambiguity is cool these days. Maybe no one is right. Do you buy that? Me neither. Here are the real facts: 1. Foreign nationals involved in or connected to terrorism do not have due process rights, nor should they. Forget all that “innocent until proven guilty” business—that’s for real Americans only. 2. These guys play dirty. Islamic terrorists will stop at nothing to bring us down. 3. The only way they can win is if we let them. If we can’t hold on to a belief that our culture is superior, we are doomed. 4. The Patriot Act is a great piece of legislation. The only people losing any rights are terrorists and their supporters. We need to get serious with Islamic terror and stay serious for the long haul. This movie does very little to help.

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