Rendition (2007)

Oh hooray, thanks a lot CIA, we now live in a world where a movie about extraordinary rendition and torture is a “spy” movie.  I’ve heard some say that black sites arose from the emphasis in the CIA on human intelligence and upon failing to convince Congress and the Executive Branch of the valid need for more people and less drones, they revived a new, more international version of the Phoenix Program.

Rendition is wrong and torture is wrong and useless.  The information from captured enemy combatants is rapidly perishable and by the time you’ve tortured someone long enough they will tell you anything they think you might want to hear but even if it was true it will be old intelligence.  Interrogation by trained interrogators serves a purpose but there are much better and more efficient methods than inventive torture methods.The gross human rights violations of the US/UK extraordinary rendition practices, black sites and even Guantanamo are shocking from the governments of free democracies.  It sounds like a Cold War plot about the dastardly deeds of those vile communists.

As for the movie, it was middle ground, it wasn’t that great but neither was it that bad.  The best part is that it doesn’t matter because it is a valuable movie and not only for Western countries.  It’s the same reason that Munich is important irregardless of which side you’re on.  These movies are important because of the issues they present in readily available formats to worldwide audiences.  Is state-sponsored kidnapping legal and ethical?  Is state-sponsored torture and interrogation legal and ethical?  What are the inalienable rights of detainees?  How damaging and exacerbating are the activities in The War on Terror on international relations and perpetuating violence?  (both sides)  What are the limits to national self-defense?  (both sides)  What are responsibilities of the individual in a bloodthirsty nation?  (notice how that one works both ways as well?)  The terrorist/girlfriend back-story subplot was more convenient than thought-provoking.

Omar Metwally was fantastic and Gyllenhaal’s regret was believable.  After having seen plenty of terrible acting, it’s nice to be able to nitpick the rest of the cast as just being good.